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  CSPAN    U.S. House of Representatives    News  News/Business. Live  
   coverage of House proceedings.  

    September 18, 2012
    1:00 - 4:59pm EDT  

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seats. these were the seats that catered by members of the government because under the constitution if you become a member of the government you have to vacate your parliamentary seat. so we contested 44 of them, we won 43 and i'm very annoyed to say we lost one. but this has made us the biggest opposition party in our national assembly and when you consider that there are 651 members, 44 is not too much. but we found just before we -- just after the election, that we had forgotten to look into the words of the oath that we would have to take. these remained the same as the previous election regulations. we had to undertake to defend and protect the constitution. .
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and to do what is best under the circumstances. the people were very anxious for us to get in the national assembly. they understood the wording of the oath, but still the great majority of our people wanted us to enter the national assembly and represent them in the legislative process. on top of that many of the ethnic national parties that already had representatives within the national assembly were keen for us to join them because they felt that this would strengthen us as -- i do
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not know whether i should refer to them as opposition parties, but certainly they felt that they could work together with us and that to a certain extent we could counter the overwhelming influence of the union solidarity and development party which had won. we talk about this and in the end i decided that as we were the ones who had made the mistake of not looking through all the appendices carefully, we would have to confess our mistake and to respect the will of the people who had voted for us and also to respect the desire of our friendly parties to work with us. we decided to take the oath. well, i took it, but we took by
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election platform which is first rule of, second and third necessary amendments to the constitution. and as the constitution itself allows for amendments, but only with over 75% of the votes. which means we would have to get at least not just all the civilian votes but at least one member of the military block to vote with us, because they have 25%. still i think we did the right thing when we decided to enter parliament. i think this is when we had to start thinking very seriously about new u.s.-burma bilateral relations. burma had certainly started out on the process of democratization. but how far will it go?
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how sustainable is it? how genuine is it? those are the questions. i think these questions have not yet been answered in their entirety. how genuine is the process. how sustainable it is. it will depend on all of us. first of all it will depend on the people of burma. the people of burma as represented by those in the legislature would have a lot to do with it. we must also remember that the reform process was initiated by the president. i believe that he is keen on democratic reforms, but how the executive goes about implementing those reforms is what we have to watch. and when we think of democracy,
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we have to think of the three props of democracy. the three arms of democracy. executive, legislature, and the judiciary. we cannot judge how genuine or how sustainable the democratization of burma is simply by looking at the executive. neither can we do it by looking simply at the legislature. nor by looking at the judiciary. if you are to look just at the judiciary in burma, you would probably see nothing because this is our weakest arm. and this is what we are trying to build up in the legislature, through the legislature itself and through the committee for the rule of law which i'm fortunate or unfortunate, i don't know, to be chairman, and we all have to work together. so new u.s.-burma bilateral
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relations i would like to be founded firmly in the recognition of the need to give equal weight to the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary committee -- judiciary and to judge the progress of democratization in burma by how strong all these institutions are and how well able to work as a whole to establish democratic practices in our country. our people have been resort to democratic values and democratic plaque tisses -- practices for many decades. in fact they say many of them say, very, very frankly, we really don't know what democracy is. but we don't want dictatorship.
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when they wrote it for us, when we went around the country for the elections of april, i asked many of them why they wanted democracy and they usually would say, we want to be able to lead our own lives freely. they wanted the freedom to be able to decide their own destiny. this was a very simple wish on the part of many of our people. they also wished to be taken out of poverty, burma has become very poor over the years under military dictatorship, and u.s.-burma bilateral relations will also need to be built on policies that will help to raise us out of poverty. for many years the dictatorship in burma claimed that u.s. sanctions had had no effect
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whatsoever and they did not care, but then lately in the last years of military rule, united states sanctions were blamed for all the economic ills of burma. not just the economic ills but other ills as well, and there is great eagerness for these sanctions to be removed. on my part i do not think we need to cling on to sanctions unnecessarily, because i want our people to be responsible for their own destiny and not to depend too much on external props. we will need external help, we will need the help of our friends abroad, from all over the world, but in the end we have to build our own democracy for ourselves. and we would like u.s.-burma relations to be founded firmly on the recognition of the need for our own people to be
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accountable for their own destiny. we need the kind of help that has been given to us by the united states historically in the fields of education and health and the fields of humanitarian aid. our education system is in a shambles. many of our people are barely educated. 15% of our children do not go to school at all, and of the rest hardly 20% make it through high school. so burma's educational system is in dire need of reform. not just -- and we need practical help. our health system isn't exactly -- is in exactly the same situation. we need great help in the -- with education, with help, with the building up of democratic institutions. as i mentioned earlier, the
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weakest of these institutions is that of the judiciary, but we have to work very hard at it. without rule of law, you cannot have the kind of economic reforms that will lift our people out of poverty. economic relations between the u.s. and burma seem to have come to the forefront over the last several months. there is great eagerness on the part of international businesses to invest in burma. recently we produced a draft foreign direct investment law and this has been widely discussed. the first draft as came out was considered disappointing by many would-be investors, but some changes have been made to this and i believe that it will prove to be a lot more attractive than the first draft that came out last mont.
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-- month. but whatever laws we produce without the rule of law, without the kind of judicial system that will be there to make sure that the laws are upheld and obeyed, it will not provide anybody with either security or with the freedom necessary for them to operate effectively in our country. so while the united states seems to be concentrating a lot on the economic aspect of its relationings with my country -- relations with my country, i hope they will do this in full awareness of the need to promote rule of law. and to help the president and his executive to carry out the reforms they have in mind, as well as to help the legislature,
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to strengthen itself as a body that will protect the people's interests through the laws that they enact and the laws that they amend and the laws that they simply just have to get rid of because there are many laws in our country which do greater harm than good. not too many, several, let's put it. especially the laws under which people activists have been placed in prison over the last decade. i think many of you, i have heard recently there was a release of prisoners in burma, 500, of which we understand about 90 are political prisoners, which would mean by our account that over 200 remain, 200 political prisoners remain in prison. on top -- this is according to the lists, there are other lists
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longer than this. i think the list that is accepted by the united states is rather longer than ours. so that would be by united states count more than 300 or even more than 400 people still are imprisoned today. by our account about over 200 remain. all these will have to be freed. if you talk about genuine democratization, there should be not a sippingle political prisoner in the country. there should be no prisoners of conscience because in a genuine democracy people should be able to act in accordance with the -- their conscience so long as they are not infringing on the rights of others. rule of law and human rights cannot be separated. it's said in the preamble to the universal declaration of human rights, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law. this is the principle to which
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the nld has achieved. during the troubles that have arisen in -- we have always kept to this principle, that there must be respect for human rights and there must be rule of law. this is the way in which we can defuse the tensions that created the communal violence taking place -- not taking place, which took place as recently as a few weeks ago. the government has formed a commission to look into the situation. the n.l.d. is a political party seen as the opposition party, as the major opposition party. we do not want to make political capital out of the situation, we want to give the government all
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the opportunities it needs to diffuse the situation there and pri about a peaceful settlement. we do not want to criticize the government just for the sake of making political capital. we want to have the government -- to help the government in any way possible to bring about peace and harmony in the state. whatever help is asked from us, we are prepared to give, if it is within our ability to do so. but it is not for us -- we are not in a position to decide what we do and how we operate, because we are not the government. i think this has to be understood by those who wish the n.l.d. to do more. what we can do is to declare our principles and our preparedness to help in every day we can. human rights -- every way we
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can. human rights and the rule of law, these cannot be ignored if we are to resolve all these communal problems. and that, i think, has to be accepted by all responsible parties to ignore either human rights or rule of law or to insist on human rights and pretend that rule of -- and rule of law is a different matter, will not work. nor will it work the other way around. you cannot say we must have rule of law, but human rights is something to think about later. these two have to go together. but i'm not going to talk about thish shy in greater detail now. i would also like to talk about the issue of other ethnic nationalities. fights has been going on and i understand it has intensified over the last two days. we need to build up ethnic
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harmony in our country. in the end harmony can only be brought about through mutual understanding and mutual respect. this does not -- this cannot be built up quickly, but we have to work at it, and i believe that we need a time frame when we are talking of political settlement. we cannot keep going on and on and on saying someday we'll get there. we have to have benchmarks. we have to have milestones. we have to know when we want to get to where, at what time, and we have to work towards it. again this is not what i'm here to talk about principally. i'm here to talk about u.s.-burma bilateral relations. so what i want to say is that i would like the united states to be aware of our problems.
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it is only by keeping up an awareness of our problems that we shall be able to establish a strong, healthy relationship between our two countries. i want our countries to be friends. you have been our friend. the friends of forces of democracy through long years, now it is time for you to be friends, friends of our whole country, of the democratic process, of our people, of aspirations. to be able to help us realize aspirations, you have to understand what they are. you have to understand what our needs are. and that is what real engagement is. trying to understand one another. we, too, have to try to understand the united states. it's not a one-way business.
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it's two-way traffic. without understanding on both sides, we cannot be real friends. and we cannot engage in a positive way. you may say, well, what does burma have to give the united states? well, we have a lot to give you. it's not just economic opportunity for businesses, it's -- we have -- we can give you the opportunity to engage with a people who are ready and willing to change in society. this will give you the opportunity to see how you can work together to change a society because i think there are many things in your society that you wish to change as well. i don't think there is a single country in the world that can be said to be perfect and by helping others you will also learn how to help yourselves. when you study the problems of a country, you will gain new insights into how you can deal
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with the problems relation to your own country. when we are studying the problems in the rekind stage, you will gain greater insight into the -- why the problems that exist between the united states and other countries. so i would like u.s.-burma relations to be a balanced one. a relationship that is based on mutual respect, mutual understanding, and genuine friendship. we have a long way to go. i'm very hopeful that burma will get to the point where we can say, now we are a society firmly rooted in democratic values and democratic institutions. i'm now a member of the legislature, so naturally i
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would like to speak up for the legislature. it's a very new legislature, very new in more ways than one. the building is actually brand new. and i'm quite impressed. lots of marble and crystal and all that. we are finding our way. we have been fortunate in that both speakers of the assembly, speaker of the upper house as well as the speaker of the lower house has treated us very, very small opposition very, very fairly. they have both gone out of their way to make us feel that we are not discriminated against, that we are given consideration as an opposition party. we have also established good relations with members of other parties, including u.s. and with
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members of the national ethnic parties. we are beginning to work together. we are beginning to learn the art of compromise, give and take, the chief mode of consensus. it is good that this is beginning in the legislature and we hope that this is spread out and become a part of the political culture of burma because the burmese political culture has been very weak in negotiated compromises. it is not the way we have worked for a good many years. but if we are to resolve the problems that now face our country, we will have to learn the art of negotiated compromise and we hope very much that the united states and other friends will help us in this learning process. in the end u.s.-burma relations
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will be what we make of it. we here now because we are the ones who will lay the foundation for the relationship between our two countries. what happens over the next few years will decide how strong and how healthy the relationship between our two countries have been. so i hope that all of you will take this as a common talk to be carried out together with commitment and with confidence, because i am sure that we will succeed in our endeavor. not easily. there are many, many obstacles in the way and i'm not going to talk about this because i think when the question and answer session comes everybody will talk about those obstacles and then i will deal with them.
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may i just bring my part of this proceedings to a conclusion by saying that i would like to thank all of you for what you have done for our country in the past and i look forward to the future when we shall be able to do much for one another. thank you. [applause] >> question with -- before the questions the asia society has an award to present. would you come up. you are the awardee. >> a few things first. thank you for your very
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thoughtful and candid comments today. and i like everyone here feels very fortunate to be here on the occasion of your first visit to the united states in some 40 years. so if you would permit me for more than three decades the asia society has been recognizing extraordinary individuals who in their lives and professions have contributed to advancing mutual understanding between asians and americans in meaningful ways. the society's global vision award is bestowed upon leaders whose values and actions promote democracy, human rights, justice, and equal access to resources. ang sang suu kyi embodies these qualities like no other. she was the recipient of asia society's 2011 global vision award that was given to her in absen shiia last january and we are delighted to have the opportunity to present it to her
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today in person. aung san suu kyi is the key of the national league of democracy, the n.l.d., and her biography is well-known to all and that's been led primarily by her tireless advocacy for democracy and for the rights of her people, much of that achieved over decades of detention. she was awarded the nobel peace prize in 1981 for her lifelong struggle in support of democracy, aung san suu kyi is an inspiration to the people of burma and all people in the world. as a special honor for me to present this award here today because i'm a long time visitor to burma. i'm a great fan of your country. it's a place that really touches your heart. i first went there in the mid 1970's and i have kept going back probably every year since the year 2000. there is a lot to love about burma. it's beautiful. it's bountiful, and i don't one
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can find a kinder or more resilient people anywhere in the world. i work with a school, orphannage and medical clinic near the capital of the state and i was involved in this work by a very great man who, a man i know you know well, a patriot and a man who has been one of your close colleagues in the n.l.d. and we spent many days and nights going over the years of struggles and try um of of n. -- triumphs of n.l.d. and the challenge of finding democracy and through him i met many other supporters of your party, many of whom have spent time in prison and often under very deplorable conditions. i never met you and it's a thrill for me to do so today. i got to say that all my visits to burma, none were like the one i had last year. i was there last winter and it was electrifying. good news is hard to come by
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these days. so it's been astonishing to see so much good news coming from burma of all places. i was that for the campaign season and it was a marvel just to witness the change in attitude and spirit and hope of the burmese who after 50 years, 50 years of pretty much a brutal military dictatorship are awakening at last. your picture was everywhere i went hanging in the bye czars in the markets and it was -- bizarres in the markets and it was interesting because at one point it was illegal to possess the picture. i got a handbag that said i heart democratcy. you had a great victory and for those of you as you had mentioned the n.l.d. won 43 of the 44 seats that were opened for this election. the longing for change in burma is overwhelming and while we know there will be obstacles along the way, many of you which
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you alluded to today, the democracy you have advocated for and devoted yourself to all your life really seems inevitable. it's a thrill to watch this history being made and it's a thrill to have you here with us today. on behalf of asia society it's my honor to call you to the state. that's what it says here but you are already on the stage. it's been great to have you here. but i want -- this is an award in recognition of your decades-long struggle to promote democracy, human rights, and justice. let me present you this award. [applause]
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>> we were scheduled to end about 1:30, but we'll stretch it out for another 10 minutes so there will be time for questions. >> we are going to jump right into it. it's an honor to co-moderate with my colleague, suzanne, who is with the asia society, their vice president global policy project. we received a number of questions from twitter, facebook, and email. so let's launch right in. suzanne. >> well, first let me say what a thrill it is to see you again. welcome back to the united states after so many long decades. i hope you know on this tour you are going to meet probably thousands if not more of your supporters and friends. we are looking forward to that.
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you spoke a little bit about the obstacles and getting to them in the "q&a" session, this is my job. you spoke eloquently about the u.s.-burma relationship and how far it's come in such a short period of time. and an emphasis has been put on economic issues. you made the point just now that without rule of law the economy cannot be strengthened in a just way. now we know that the united states is considering is listing and an easing of the blanket ban on imports from burma. so my question to you is obviously such an easing would help people in your country in a meaningful way, but do you support such a move now? if so, why? if not, what needs to be done to get there? >> i do support the easing of sanctions because i think that
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our people must start taking responsibility for their own destiny. i do not think we should depend on u.s. sanctions to keep up the momentum of our movement for democratcy. we've got to work at it ourselves. and there are very many other ways in which the united states can help us -- ways the united states can help us achieve our democratic ends, can help us build up the kind of democratic institutions that we are in such need of. sanctions are not the only way. we are very, very grateful for the fact that sanctions were instituted in the past. it's helped us greatly. i do not agree with those who say that sanctions hurt burma economically, but they certainly had a very great political effect and the fact that so many people try to blame sanctions for the economic ills of the country only proves how important it was as a weapon, not that it really hurt us economically.
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if you read the i.m.f., i think you will find sanctions in fact have very little economic impact in burma. >> i'm going to ask you a question that actually came from twitter. the question is, there are a number of cease-fire agreements and peace negotiations ongoing in burma with the various ethnic groups, what can the burmese government do to build trust with the ethnic groups and gain their confidence that the government is in fact responsive to their concerns? and what role do you think civil society can play in that peace process in burma? >> there has been disust between the ethnic groups and the military government of burma for very many years. and now although this is a civilian government, you have to remember that most of the members of the civilian government are from the old military government, and besides the military still has a very
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powerful position in the achievement of cease-fires. for example the problem now in the kachin state, they believe that the cease-fire agreements will not be kept without the compliance of the military. and they are not certain that the military acts in accordance with the directions of the executive. so it's just a question of lack of trust. nobody trusts anybody else. and that needs time to build up. i think we need to learn more about conflict resolution and negotiation from those who have gone to the same experiment. i have spoken to a few people involved in conflict resolutions in other parts of the world and even one session from one session i learned a lot. so i think we have to learn how
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to go about it. it's not something that comes naturally. >> we received a number of questions related to the situation in rachine state. if you had clarification, in the past when you addressed this issue you noted that this was a situation related -- and that would be a way to think about it. the questions were what do you mean by that? and looking nord -- forward, what is the best way to address this issue? >> to begin with i didn't say it was just to do with citizenship. i was talking about rule of law. and there are many aspects of rule of law. first and foremost of course it was a question of keeping peace in the area. the very first crime that was committed a few months ago, if that had been handled in
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accordance with rule of law principles, that is to say actions should have been taken quickly and then justice should not only have been done but seen to be done, that would have diffused the situation, but because from the very beginning the basic norms of rule of law were not observed. the whole thing escalated and became worse and worse. and looking at it in the long term, citizenship laws come into it. we have to know who our citizens -- are citizens of burma in accordance with citizenship laws. on the other hand, we also have to examine our citizenship laws to find out if they are in line with international standards. and with basic human rights requirements. so it's not just citizenship laws when you are talking about rule of law. we are just talking about rule of law meaning to say rule of just laws citizen laws, laws of to do with crimes.
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it all started with a crime. because the way in which the parties handled it was seen as inadequate. everything became worse. >> we have time for one more question. this actually came from an email and the question is, what can members of the pro-democracy movement known as the 88 generation, many of whom have been imprisoned in the past, as well as other activists, including exiles, do to contribute to burma's peaceful transition? what is their role? >> i don't think that all those who belong to those activist groups have to do just one thing. each person has his own strengths and weaknesses. each person has his own talents. i think they have to choose. some may be best taking part in humanitarian activities. some may be best going into
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politics. some may do best in other directions such as literature, arts, etc. so i don't think that just because there has been activists in the past, they all have to be lumped together and they should all be expected to do just one thing. there are many things that they can do, because i assume that each one of them is different. each one of them is an individual with his own talents, his own inclin cases, and his own -- inclinations and his own ambitions. i don't think they need to keep together as one organization all the time. they have to expand with the changing times. >> then the follow-up question is, are they welcomed? are they opened to participate? >> in burma? >> the question was -- >> are you talking about the ones living abroad? that depends on two things, one
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the regulations, the government, what the regulations are with regard to the status of each individual because i don't know believe they all fall into one category. the second thing, will they be welcomed in burma? i think so. i think the people in burma would welcome back any of our citizens who have lived abroad for a long time. if they wish to come back. >> thank you. >> i think on that note, very short "q&a," but we were thrilled to have the opportunity. thank you so much for joining us. i know we will have some closing remarks, but i do want to tell all of you that this entire discussion will be available on our respective websites, usit.org and asia society.org so please tell your friends and colleagues to view it. i believe it was a very important statement from you at this moment. thank you so much. [applause]
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>> thanks to our partners, the asian fund, the asian society, and to all those who put this together. we are going to move aung san suu kyi out of the building. if you would just hold for a minute or so and we'll let you go. we'll leave right now. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012]
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>> be sure to join us later today at 5:30 eastern when marine corps commandant general james amos will talk about the new strategic defense guidance issued by president obama earlier this year. that will be live from the atlantic council here in washington. again starting at 5:30 eastern here on c-span. the u.s. house met earlier today for a brief pro forma session. legislative work will start tomorrow with welfare program
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waivers and energy production regulations on the agenda for the week. the senate also resumes legislative work tomorrow. they'll continue on debate at 2013 spending. can you watch the house live right here on c-span and see the senate on our companion network, c-span2. >> the country faces the starkest, the starkest choice for president in my memory. you see, the president and i have fundamentally different vision than governor romney and congressman ryan. and a different value set that guides us. >> under the current president, we are at risk of becoming a poor country. because he looks to government as the great benefactor in every life. new model is, quote, government is the overwhelm thing that we all belong to. i don't know about you, but i have never thought of government
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as something that i belonged to. >> watch and engage with c-span as the campaigns move toward the october debates. vice presidential candidates will debate once in danville, kentucky. while the presidential candidates face off in three 90-minute debates. wednesday the third, tuesday the 16th, and mon the 22 on foreign polcy. follow our coverage on c-span, c-span radio, and online at c-span.org. up next, the six of eight focus groups with virginia voters who are self-supporters or undecided voters. including "washington post" dan balz and john harwood from last night just under 2 1/2 hours. >> welcome, welcome. any seat. they're all equally great.
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and the only thing is, please put your name tags directly towards me. so i can read them easily. richard, towards me. that's great. thank you. move up here. that's great. can you turn your nameplate towards me. and it is raj, right? >> yes. >> pamela, you go by pamela? >> yes. >> great. mary. and carlina? >> yes. >> ann. charles. >> i prefer charlie. >> ok, charlie. christina. good. a.j. and sue an -- susan and david.
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welcome, welcome, welcome. thank you all very much for being here. this is a focus group. and i'm delighted to have all of you here. what we are going to do is talk about the 2012 election. this is being done for the annenberg center for public policy at the university of pennsylvania. my name is peter hart and i have been doing these sessions for the university of pennsylvania and center for public policy for about 12 years now. they are only meant to be a discussion. it's meant to take a look at the election. we have had several of these already. we had one in milwaukee a couple -- a month ago. we have had them in ohio. we have had them all across the nation. and i figured as we are getting close to the end, christina, what would be a better place than virginia. can you think of a better place? i can't think of a better place, either. so that's the purpose and that's
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what it is. we'll just start talking and go through things. let me just say there aren't any right answers or wrong answers and we are not here to persuade everybody that your point of view is the right one and they are wrong. let me go around the table, start with ben, we'll finish with raj. give me your name, tell me what you do for work, if you are married, if you have kids, and i guess the other thing i would like to know is who you are voting for president and how committed are you. so if you are totally undecided, say i'm totally undecided at this stage. if you are indeed committed to somebody, let me know. so i want to know i'm voting for someone and you are either open or you can be leaning or you can be pretty committed to somebody. we are going to start with ben, welcome.
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>> ben macgyver, geologist. i just graduated from virginia tech. not married. i don't have any kids. right now i'm leaning towards mitt romney. >> ok. good. great. >> i'm pamela, i am a director of communication force a company called human circuit and what we do is we integrate, which is another word for implement and install, vital media products, a.v., teleconferencing, studio equipment, etc. i am divorced, single mother, two boys, just graduated college, and i am totally undecided. >> ok. great. just for the future, we won't name our companies because i don't want somebody to say, oh, i had a terrible experience. undoubtedly. only good experiences. >> i'm rich engel, work for an i.t. company.
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i have four kids i'm married. and as of right now i am leaning towards obama. >> ok. >> hi, i'm mary barker, recently retired after being a school principal, and i am married and i have one son who is launched hopefully. and i am leaning towards obama. >> ok, good. >> hello, my name is carla, i was laid off four years ago, and my contingency plan once all my money starts to run out was i start add business which has been in place for 3 1/2 years, i am technically leaning towards president obama. >> ok. technically leaning. ok. >> i'm ann moss, and i am a high school librarian, and i have three 20-somethingings. some launched, some not. >> and really still on the fence.
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>> great. >> my name is charlie, a entrepreneur, currently working at a web company. got one child. at home. and i'm pretty much undecided. >> ok. >> i am christina, i'm a coastal engineer, i am engaged so i'll be joining married crew. two weeks. and i am leaning towards barack obama. >> great. >> and congratulations. >> name is a.j., computer geek. i'm ridiculously happily married. no kids as of yet. leaning towards obama with some reservation. >> ok. >> i'm susan, and i work in commercial lending, we loan to small businesses for credit union. married. five children.
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and i'm leaning towards romney. >> ok. good. >> i'm dave, i work in alternative education. i'm a teacher. i'm married and i have two children who are nowhere near being launched. and i am currently leaning towards president obama. >> ok. >> i'm raj, i'm a president of a biotech company, microbiologist, and i'm leaning towards mitt romney. >> ok. great. i'm going to do a quick show of hands. you also have a major united states senate race here. it's between tim kaine and george allen. how many people here, if the election were today say i'm with tim kaine. hands up for tim kaine. hands up. one. 1 1/2. two, three, four, five, six. how many say i'm with george allen?
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i got one, two and the other three if you are -- undecided at this stage of the game. ok. great. just wanted to get that one out of the way so we can take a look. let me start just ask you to give me a word or phrase to describe how things are going in america. word or phrase, christina, how are things going in america? >> tep i had. >> because? >> i think things could be better. but i think things were worse in the past. we are sort of here in d.c. i think we have a skewed view what it is actually like outside of this region, but seems tepid. >> what's mary say? >> improving. >> improving. >> raj would say? >> b plus. >> susan how are things going in america? >> kind of scary. >> what way? >> there just doesn't seem to be
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any way to agree at least in congress. the good old days where they would go out for a drink or whatever after being on the floor and figure it all out doesn't seem to be happening. >> ben? what phrase would you use? >> i think it could be better. optimistic. >> optimistic. >> i think it could be better. >> and pamela? >> it got pretty down there for a while. i'm feeling like things are optimistic as well because i do believe we have reached our bottom a number years ago. >> what's the optimism for? where's the optimism come from? >> it's a little more complex than just saying something flip like it couldn't get any worse. but i think this country and our current administration is faced with some real challenges. it's global. it's no longer just our country. it's a global affair.
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it's a global environment. and things are just crazy all over the world. so that's affecting us, pu we are maintaining. we are -- but we are maintaining. we are sustaining. we are climbing out of the black hole. >> and a.j.? >> i think we are mired in a bowl of stupid. to bore re from what susan says, the dialogue, i can easily recall as i was growing up through the reagan years and the clinton years which seemed to die off after slick willie left town, there was a lot of too and fro from both sides that would sit down to the table. we as a people would go out after work and have drinks and discuss things with someone we disagreed with. then we turned into a camp war. >> richard? >> i was thinking my concern is as you said, a global issue.
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not everyone seems willing to talk. they all said kind of get together to figure out how we need to get there. >> let me ask you a question, let me use this little line, by the way everybody has a pad in front of you. what i tried to do is sort of represent tell me looking at the next four years, not where we are today, but if you look towards the next four years ahead, do you think we are headed up pretty -- in a pretty good path? barely headed up? absolutely dead even? we are headed down slightly? or we are headed down steeply? what kind of a letter would you think best describes what you sort of see of the next four years. ok. how many people say a?
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we are headed up -- you are very optimistic. >> i am. >> why are you optimistic? >> things are starting to work out. people are starting to get back to work. not to say things are good yet. but they are definitely moving in -- >> ok. anybody say e? i'm sorry, i think we are going to be headed down in the next four years in a dramatic way? nobody. ok. how about b? how many say, yeah, we are going to start to slope up? two, four, six, eight, nine people. almost everybody else. why? why do you feel that way, carina? >> i think this has been an opportunity for people to become introspective. i thought i was safe in my position. i raised my money and raised my salary and when i got the notification i was being let goer, i thought you're kidding me. but i was comfortable. i was comfortable and it made me
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get off my tail and start a business. something that i had been dreaming about for years. and now i'm thinking, wow, i'm a business owner. wow. >> ok. >> mary? >> i would agree with what charlie said only not quite the a. i'm thinking that the housing market is improving slightly. i think just general awareness. people see where we have to go. >> good. >> anybody snells david, where are you? >> i'm in the c plus. and it was said in the other thing i think the paragraph zahnship is really just -- partisanship, is really just -- it brings us down in a lot of way. currently right now we just can't find any common ground. you look on any tv show or any commentators, you know exactly where the station is coming from. you can't watch one show and get both sides. i almost feel like there's nowhere where you can go to watch news and get a good idea
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where the country is because everyone has picked a side. >> good. pamela, where are you? >> i'm a b plus. >> tell me what you're thinking. >> i'm slightly -- little bit more than slightly optimistic. because it's a deep hole we are climing out of. as karlena said, a lot of us, myself included, had to be forced out of our comfort zone to start to pay attention and take a look at what's going on. and to be concerned. and not just show up and cast a vote. to actually ask questions, be interested, participate. look for similarities not differences. that is where i think the solutions ultimately lie. >> christina, give me your thoughts. are you a b? >> yes. >> why? >> i was sort of in that age group that was dropped out of college in 2008 with oh, my god, where are we going to go? and seeing a lot of my friends struggle with careers, being
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unemployed, entering college with the hope that everything's going to be great but now i can start to see my friends be employed, i'm starting to see my friends buy homes, and we are all starting to get our footing. >> hi one c, was anybody a d? there were a couple c's. and the rest a's and b's. that's helpful. tell me something, what gives you confidence in america's future? raj? >> the amazing intellectual pool . it's inexhaustible. intellectual talent. that's truly what the future is all about. no one can compete with us. >> ben? >> along with the intelligence, we also have the natural resource that is we need to accomplish anything. >> ok.
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rich? >> we don't give up as a country and our people. we don't give up, we try to improve. start your own business. came out of college and actually -- >> ok. a.j.? >> constitution. >> ok. >> both literally and figuratively. >> susan, what gives you confidence? >> american spirit. >> ok. >> what richard was talking about. we don't go down easy. >> what's the thing that scares you the most, charles? what scares you? what worries you as you think about america's future? >> all set for the other question. >> ready to move. any direction. >> what scares me the most is the discongrute in congress with our leaders. they are very much partisan. our leaders really need to think about the country.
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instead of being re-elected. the first thing politicians think about is how will this affect our re-election chance instead of what's good for this country? that's the biggest problem we have. >> karlena, biggest challenge? >> well, i think the biggest challenge is, is there is still a lot of people out there that feel that they are safe. and i feel like i have hit the bottom, and i'm on the rise. but i just had a conversation with a neighbor who just lost her job, and for her, her safety net is shaking. i don't know. >> and what concerns you? >> just the whole economy, how to we get out? i don't see any candidates really having a plan and really giving direction. >> pamela. >> i'm 54 years old and i'm very concerned about my social security, i'm concerned about medicare, i'm concerned about
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health care. i haven't heard anything yet that makes me feel solid for our, you know, with regard to what's down the road for me in 10 years. i'm going to have to work until i'm 95. at least that's the way it appears now. >> and that's how you feel. do you see a point where you'll see, i'm going to be able to stop working. >> no. >> and the reason? >> as a single mothering i didn't have much opportunity to save or any left over to invest. it was putting a roo roof over my head and putting my kids through school. here they are, done, i'm starting over again at age 64. all i have as security is my social security. i don't have assets. i've not been able to accumlit and keep. so -- to accumulate and keep.
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i'm a little worried about. >> mary, tell me your story. still in school? -- still teach kohl? you're retired? >> i'm very fortunate my husband was a principal as well. the county i work for, where we live in, has a very good retirement plan and if you stay, it's like a golden noose, if you leave, you know, you lose a lot but if you stay in, the benefits are fantastic. >> so you're secure in the opposite way that pam is. does anybody else feel sort of insecurity in terms of where you are in your position? ann? >> i do, peter. to go along with part b, education, we were told this was what we were going to get for retirement and the states are pulling become on that. they are not going to be able to financially full till to --
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fulfill the retirements they have promised. we worked for, we do not work for the money. but it would be nice to have what we've been promised when we retire. >> i'm going to do something, we'll go around the room, i'll start with charles and we'll go clockwise, charles, you get to -- you get to prepare your answer. charles, give me a word or phrase to describe how you feel about the 20 pain, write it down, have it in mind. we're going to go very, very quickly. a word or phrase to describe how you feel about the 012 campaign. ready, charles? >> i feel it's extremely important. >> ok. how do you feel about the campaign, christina? >> more removed from it. >> ok. >> ambivalent. >> ok. >> negative.
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>> negative. >> lack of potential. comp mies. >> normal. >> ok. >> cheap slugfest. >> unhappy. >> confused. >> contented. >> really no specific plans of what they're going to do. >> i want to talk about the way you feel about this, confused. >> yes. i feel confused because you read one thing, you hear one thing and then it's contradicted shortly thereafter and you try to read further into it and you hear different people that you think you can respect and then you're just appalled at some of the things they're saying so it's really confusing. >> and -- ann? >> i agree very much with that. the concern of no, there
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doesn't seem to be a path. >> anybody else? david? >> i said negative but i feel like it's reactionary, with the way social media is and things get out there, click, click, click. we just react to little clicks and things go. before long somebody has jumped on something before they've looked into it with, you know, a couple of days ago with the whole thing of libya, it was just real quick, right away, it really bothered me because i'd like our leader to think about things. >> susan, what are you thinking? >> at times it seems ambiguous and confusing, mostly negative and the sound bites drive everything and reactionary. i'm agreeing with almost everything everyone has said here so far. >> and what most disappoints
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you about this campaign? >> i think talking points. i am so incredibly frustrated with talking points. i'm frustrated with the media, if you're going to ask the question, make sure the question is answered. don't allow them to mow you down with talking points and never get around. >> and what frustrates you? >> i'm not really frustrated. >> ok, good, high five for you. good. i'm not frustrated because? >> i think i'm still young and all this is still kind of new, this is only the third presidential election i've been paying attention to, nothing eems -- seems out of the ordinary or bad or good in that respect. >> charlie, do you agree? >> i don't feel -- i'm not frustrated by anything.
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i do disagree with just the whole campaign seems to be about sound bites. but no, i'm not frustrated. >> anybody else disappointed? >> i'm not disappointed, i agree, but for different reasons. part of it is it's just normal. part of it is, this election and in the future, more of technology and the media will play a role in it than we're used to. we're sort of almost at the start of a paradigm change. >> ok, ok. ok. i feel like pamela has something to say. pamela? >> about technology. i preface what i'm about to say new york preparation for coming to this event i decided to do some homework so i didn't make a fool out of myself by saying something really stupid which a lot of our politicians seem to be doing these days. in doing the research, i got totally overwhelmed by the amount of information that's out there and how things are
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contradictory and to your point, depending on the media outlet and the stance or position that they take. which, because of all this information, it's hard to filter it, sift it out and come up with a decision. -- with a decision. that's why i'm undecided. i have now got too much information. i can't wait for the debates, can't wait for some really serious answering. >> ok, good. that's not a bad place to start. you're undecided, mary, why are you undecided? >> because i want mitt romney to release his tax returns. >> why is that important to you? >> well, when i was looking at how he was vetting his applicants for vice president, he made them provide 10 years' worth of tax returns. and i just feel like this entitlement and the rules don't apply fairly to everyone and
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that is just for some reason, little things i have read just like that in particular, stick in my mind. >> it sticks in my mind and it gets to me because? >> because it just seems like it's just not fair. >> not fair because? >> because it just seems like what's good for someone on one side should also be good for someone on the other. in other words he should have to release his if he's fwoning to ask his vice president to release 10 year's worth. >> anybody else at the table feel the same way? hands up the ones who say i do agree. karlena does, ample j. does. the rest of you -- >> i strongly disagree. i don't think he should release any tax returns. tax returns, i have my tax returns done in my favor. under the rules. the rules are made for everybody. but to have to release his tax
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returns for prior years, no, why? it has no bearing on the race. >> so mary has one point of view, charles has a different point of view. how many say no, i think charles is right? i see charles' point of view? we've got one, two, three, four people agreing with charles. ok, that's good. and tell me what you're thinking, you're undecided. why are you undecided? what's going on here. >> in this discussion of the social media, it's hard to know what is being put out by the candidates and -- because you also have all these commercials and sound bites from the p.a.c.'s, who don't have to vet what they're saying. it's not saying, you know, and i approve this message. other people are coming forward. and i just am concerned about not getting to hear just the
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candidate's side, too much of it -- >> and you can't authenticate what you're looking at. >> how do you guys decide? >> to try and go to the sources that i feel are -- and there's got to be some out there still, that are looking at both sides and trying to get down to truly what plans are. >> name one issue or area where you say this is really a make or break issue for you or is it broader and -- >> it's a little broader. there are a couple of places. education is one of my big concerns with the federal government making its way into and perhaps bullying its way into making school systems and states follow what the feds
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want to do. talk about politic -- all politics is local, education used to be local as well lt >> ok. who else? charles, you're undecide. why are you undecided? >> i'm waiting for the debates. i'm disappointed in the sound bites. i'm hoping the debates will get into more depth and more meat as to what the true plans are of the two candidates. >> and what puts you in the middle rather than leaning toward obama or leaning toward romney? >> just because i don't have enough information now. i would hesitate to make any decision at this point because of the lack of information. >> if there were one question that the candidates had to answer that would help you, what would be the question? >> plan for the economy. >> ok, good. pamela, you're undecided, why? >> i'm with charlie, i don't feel like i have enough information.
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it's kind of vague now. it's almost like rhetoric that i'm hearing. canned, almost. but we're getting a hint as it goes further along as to what their real positions are, as they switch and go back. i guess it depends on how many times they go back, that becomes their position. i want to know who their advisors are going to be. that's -- >> you said you're leaning in the most gentle way toward obama. what's up for grabs? what's happening here? >> up until about a week ago, i was completely independent. and i still am, i had a real problem with what went on in the past week. i thought that, you know, two reactionary for me. and i really -- one of the things that realy is important to me is that our president is seen well around the world. he is the leader of the free
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world. that's the way i grew up. i grew up with ronald reagan, bill clinton, they were great. you know. both in their different ways but -- so it it is -- so it is important to me. i'm leaning forward obecause mark though he's great on the stump, i haven't seen it in the poll ses and other things. >> and tell me, just to help me out, when you say reactionary last week. i was bothered. spell it out for me or for somebody who may not understand what you're talking about. >> libya. when the ambassador was killed in libya, he wasn't assassinated, but he was. the reaction that came out from mitt romney and it was so quick and it was like he was just grabbing on to something politically like, oh, look at this, he screwed up again. wait, that's not what i want.
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take a moment, you know. just think about it. don't make this about politics. let's look at what's happened here, figure out what's happened and see what we can do as a country to better our place in the world. >> anybody else have that reaction? >> let me hear from karlena, followed by ann. >> that was the same with me. i wasn't sure my position with president obama, he walked in confident that he could get everything he want done, done and found out, you can't change washington. and the last two years with him not being able to get all of his policies passed, what's your contingency plan for four more years if the same status quo continues on? with mitt romney, the question is, not only are you not getting us any specifics, what's going to happen if you can't get anything passed? if you're faced we this same
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situation? it's just a matter of -- >> you're reacting, what was the point that they made that you reacted to. >> the same thing. i was watching, i think cnn was in the background and of course he came on, mitt romney came on and he just started talking about how upset he was at how the president didn't show leadership and we shouldn't be apologizing and apologizing and i just thought, wait a minute, wait, wait, wait. i didn't even know what's happening. i'm flipping channels between -- trying to figure out what's going on and then of course it came out that individuals had died, at the time that mitt romney had spoke, two individuals hadn't even been ident 23id, their families hadn't been notified. i thought that was such a knee jerk reaction that i don't know who gai him advice but i just felt you're not the president for me right now. >> ok, good. ann? >> i agree with you very much on that.
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that's not the only instance, but that's the most vocal incident, they've got to remember, they might be candidates right now but we want to see what they look like when they are presidential. >> that series of events caused me to lean away from obama because, to blame this whole thing on a movie that's been out for -- a ewetube video that's been out for six months, when this incident happened on 9/11 and obama is being apologetic about the video, that goes against being an american. you know, we shouldn't be apologizing for our -- for free speech and for the exercise of that. we shouldn't be apologizing for our behavior. >> let me hold you right there. i want to hear from christina. you know you hear a lot of ideas a lot of thought and did
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this last week have any effect on your thinking and as you hear this around the table, what's your reaction? >> i think that the situation over there is so delicate that obama was correct in waiting a second and, you know, being as cautious as he was in his statement before deciding which way to handle the situation. at the same time, it showed me that mitt romney, it reinforced the fact that mitt romney does not have foreign policy experience. i don't think the way he jumped in was necessarily appropriate and that he should have recognized the situation was still developing and since things are so delicate over there that he should just wait a beat. >> susan, let me get you into this discussion. different viewpoints around the
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table, you're voting for mitt romney. what did you think of last week? >> leaning toward mitt romney. >> leaning toward him. i promised i was going to -- ok. tell me what you thought? >> one of the first things i heard was president obama was apologizing for this film. i was like, are you kidding me? i have a stepson who is a marine in afghanistan right now. and all the news that comes out of there, it's so scary. but then i read a little bit more about the sequence of events and it -- it didn't appear to bery dick -- it did appear to be ridiculous, what
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-- it did not seem as ridiculous. it seemed like he was standing up for our country. there's no reason that you all should have done what you did over there in libya. and it showed strength. >> it showed strength. so out of last week you got a strength of romney and that was good. and you're with romney? >> leaning toward. i'm independent. but i mean, i'm leebing. first of all, this is what they sid, not what they'd say if they were president. it's election season, things are different. we should also keep in perspective that it was the embassy which put out something, which is the mouth priest of the administration so it reflects what obama would say. you can't separate the two. so looking at that, they were wrong, maybe, to do that.
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it shouldn't be someone tweeting on behalf of an embassy when such a sensitive situation has arisen. secondly, that could be considered inappropriate or maybe wrong. on reflection of the administration. on the other hand, maybe mitt romney came out too soon to say that. and you could say that was wrong. but obama should not have apologized for what, you know, for this film on behalf of whoever made it, an independent and romney maybe should have waited to reflect his comments and what he said, i think, was not something disastrous. so i don't see a black and white thing here. i think it's gray. it's political season and they would not be saying any of this if they were president. >> anybody else want to add anything? >> just right now, everyone is so concerned with waiting, the lech, they don't think about what's right and what's wrong,
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just what makes you look good. the timing, who says it and everything else, that's the biggest concern. that's what drives me crazy, you're not getting an honest picture out of either of the two. >> anyone else want to add anything? dave, you started this? >> i just -- i think that that's part of the problem. that it's treating this as the election and whereas when people die and people are killed in a terrorist attack, you have to put aside politics for a second. you can't just speak out of the other end. that's what i think happened. and that's what bothered me more than anything, that you couldn't put it aside for one moment and just mourn for the loss of people. >> nicely said, david. >> i think i've been watching the same networks as everybody else. i never saw the president apologize for anything on our side. had there been an apology from the office of the president, i would have been offended.
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i never saw that. >> it may not be explicit but i think there was. >> i never saw an apology. >> because it was from the embassy. ok, good. ben. voting for romney? leaning or for sure? >> yes. >> what do you think? >> i think when the economy is down and all the things that are happening now and happened in the past, the best thing to do isn't to go to a politician who will say -- a politician from chicago who was a community organizer, i think we should go to a guy who turned around businesses. yeah you do need to cut the fat and sometimes people get laid off. it stinks for those individual families but you've got to worry about the country as a whole. when you do that, i think the country as a whole will benefit. i think mitt romney has a
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better way of going about it because he does have that business background. >> ok, good. we've got to move quickly, i want to catch up here. let me ask anybody, has the selection or position with paul ryan or joe biden had any effect on anybody here, positively or negatively? >> with regard to romney, he's a numbers, budget, business guy, like rock nee, that was a real plus in my mind. >> good. charles? >> on the matter of succession, it would scare the heck out of me to have biden as president. >> ok, great. christine? >> two-part, i'm from delaware so joe biden is who i grew up with. but second part is paul ryan, i
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think i've heard is the most conservative vice-presidential pick in history, even comparatively to the most liberal v.p. you could make, he's the most offcenter candidate anyone has ever selected. >> susan does it have any effect on you and how? >> i took it positively, very positively. >> for ryan? >> yes. younger generation, mid wernerer. >> good. >> i was the other way. i don't like pandering to a base. i think ryan was a -- was to the base. >> and i think ryan's policies will get tempered by vice president. >> this is 10 seconds, everybody gets 10 seconds, even you charlie. >> can i have 20? >> no. everybody gets the 10. finish this sentence. when it comes right down to it, this election is really about -- >> the economy.
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>> health care. >> economy. >> health care. >> economy. >> egos. >> economy. >> economy. >> economics. >> jobs. >> economy. >> economics. >> what's the biggest december tans between the two candidates on the economy, economics, jobs, however you want to put it. what's the biggest difference between the two? >> i think romney's tax plan is better to create jobs and new businesses, protecting both the big businesses that create more jobs and also small businesses to be able to support thementses so they don't have to worry about health care, tacks and all that. >> romney and ryan more likely to take the hard choices of cutting the fat. but it's needed.
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>> we don't want to be greece. >> romney and ryan make me more in the middle. because they're strong own the economy. >> more in the middle because of the economy. >> why do you think they're bet ore then economy? >> you look at mitt romney's success, he's been in business and economics, and the same with paul ryan and they're number crunchers and -- >> i think romney will make the economy -- will affect the my from a private industry standpoint whereas obama will affect the economy from a government standpoint. >> i feel like obama wants us as a country to be loved and romney wants us to be respected. >> ok. anybody else? >> i think we're going to be dictated a lot by outside forces that we have less control over. >> ok.
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>> unfortunately. >> ok. >> it's still not up to them to make all the changes. >> where i was headed a moment ago is we are talking about one branch of government, of which there are three. so the direction is not going to move tremendously in one direction or the other. >> barack obama's re-elected, my single beggest concern is? >> that we'll have the his tore exly the second term nothing gets done. >> ok. a.j. mitigating circumstance beggest concern if obama is re-elected is? >> that he'll have to continue to deal with on instructionist congress. >> my greatest concern? >> i must agree with that, he's
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going to look like he didn't do anything again. >> ok. my greatest concern is? >> same thing. just a stalemate with trying to get things passed. >> ok. rich? >> needs a plan b to get things moving. >> my greatest concern pamela is? >> i'm in agreement about the bottlenecking that seems to go on. >> ok. and mary? my greatest concern about obama? >> more of the same. >> ann, my concern is? >> my greatest concern is that we continue to focus on what's going on in washington, d.c. and not looking at the rest of the country. as a mid werner, i'm very concerned about what i have seen happening in this ho -- in those states. >> ok. charles are you undecided are you -- >> i am undecided. >> and your greatest concern about obecause? >> my greatest concern about
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re-electing obama, there won't be restraints on him, second term, he's got nothing to lose. >> let me change if i can. biggest concern about electing romney? >> lack of foreign policy. >> gridlock in congress. >> ok. charles? >> i agree about the lack of foreign policy. >> ok, ben. >> i don't have anything i can put my finger on right now. >> no reservations? >> there are reservation bus no great concern. >> pamela? biggest concern about obecause -- about romney? >> foreign policy is what worries me. >> mary? >> rich get richer, poor get poorer. >> ann? >> that with all this cutting and things, there doesn't seem
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to be nebraska on that ticket that's got empathy for the rest of the country. >> ok. great. ok. we've covered the first seven minutes of my outline. it's the next point we really have to move on. let me move on. this was very enlightening and very helpful, great job, thank you, everyone. whole bunch of people either national figures or state figures. i'm going to ask you to go very quickly, lightning round. i want a word or phrase to describe your feelings about somebody. so if i were to say, barbara bush, don't say former first lady. i want your feelings about these people. just a word or freas.
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tim kaine. >> he took a pay cut for himself. >> confident. >> i don't know enough about him. >> number one in business in the union when he was fwovepbor. >> more of a centrist than people realize. >> i have no opinion about him. >> held the democratic national committee job while being governor. >> mok -- bob mcdonald. >> i won't vote for him again. words don't express how disappointed i am. >> jerk. >> i don't agree with some of the things he's done. >> pamela? >> not fond of him at all. >> ok, ritchie. >> concerns me. >> ok, david. >> i like his reform. >> useless. >> useless? ok, bill clinton. pamela? >> barn burning speeches.
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>> i like it. ok, mary. >> i like him. >> christina, word or phrase. >> charismatic. >> a.j.? >> arithmetic. >> entertaining. >> david? >> the winner. >> compromise. >> manipulative. >> ann? >> still got it. >> ben? >> willing to work with the other side. >> rich wree? >> do it again. >> ok. mitt r078 nee, word or phrase, ann? >> stiff. >> evasive. >> uppity. >> not clear. >> somewhat unfriendly. >> confident. >> stiff. >> strong. >> mixed feelings. >> like a used car salesman. >> proper. >> businessman. >> ok. joe biden. >> joke.
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>> good at making people feel at ease. >> good guy, don't agree with him, good guy. >> good guy. >> i don't think -- kind of an idiot. >> incompetent. >> liability. >> loose lips. >> emotional. >> michelle obama? >> down to earth. >> smart. >> role model. >> nice. >> strong. >> role model to women. >> liability. >> strong. >> asset. >> asset. >> asset. >> ok, great. george allen. >> confident. >> confident. >> loser. >> kind of a nerd but that's ok. >> squandered.
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>> past governor. don't like him. >> no opinion. >> no opinion. >> ok, good. barack obama. start there, go counterclockwise. >> overly confident. >> passionate. >> strong. >> unrealistic. >> arrogant. >> unrealistic. >> hollow. >> communicator. >> getting there. >> respected. >> good talker. >> good on the stump. >> hollow, who said hollow, why hollow? >> because he speaks a good game but i want to see the action. behind it. he has the -- he has the entire congress behind him for two years and what happened? he had it. >> good communicator.
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>> let me pick up, paul ryan. >> needs to get his facts straight. >> pathological liar. >> smart. >> partisan. >> smart. >> good debater. >> nice guy. >> being used. >> smart. >> almost embarrassed to say we graduated from the same college. >> last one, ann romney. i'm sorry. >> too impressionable. >> ann romney, a.j. >> a fighter. >> supportive. >> strong. >> survivor. >> support the women. >> no opinion. >> survivor. >> no opinion. >> respect her. >> perfect wife. >> but not a stepford wife. >> dependable.
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>> good, good. let me try this. we'll see how we do. i'll take two or three of them. i'm going to start with mitt romney. if you were a relative in -- if you or a relative in your family, any relative that you can think of, who is mitt romney as a relative in your family? who is mitt romney, mary? a relative of yours. what relative? what position is he in that family? >> i don't know. >> a brother. >> rich? >> uncle. >> he's an uncle. why? >> just the uncle that is all talk, doesn't --
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>> just stories. >> what? >> tells you stories all the time. family stories. you don't -- you know the he doesn't tell you everything. >> a.j.? >> he's the creepy uncle you don't want to hang out with. >> my dad. >> he's your dad because? >> a little aloof but smart. >> christina? >> cousin. >> because? >> sort of removed and you hear about him but he's not a major part of your life. >> reminds me of my niece who sometimes we call gentle mar -- general martha, she wants everybody lined up. >> fortunately she won't be watching this tonight. >> my dad. you know, honest, may not be the best communicator but he's done it and you know he's going
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to do it again if given a chance. >> dave? >> he's just like my dad. >> which means what? what are you telling me? >> just as far as as business sense and ideas about what he wants to do and has a good heart, i'm not sure he always says what he should but he's my dad. >> and that is a sense of forgiveness you have toward him? or a sense of what? >> it's deaf -- it definitely keeps me there but do i want my dad as the president? >> we have a couch, we can do that one later. >> mitt romney is like my rich uncle hfment he sends you cards and money on the birthday but never comes to your party. >> i'll say uncle. definitely a rich uncle but maybe one a little more connected, i think.
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>> karlena? >> like an in-law's parents. >> you're saying what? >> he's distant. distant, not quite -- he doesn't come to the barbecue. >> brother. >> why? >> i have a lot of respect for my brother. >> barack obama, who he is he? who is he a.j.? >> history professor. >> member of your family or relative? >> the cousin i have out west who is teaching in law school. >> susan? who is he? >> a cousin that i don't see very often but i know he's well liked in the family. >> christina? >> father, supportive, warm, always there to give you advice. >> ok, good, ann, who is he? >> the nice guy around the
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corner. hang out with. >> not a member of the family? >> not a member of the family. >> a brother who also doesn't come to the barbecue. >> ritchie? >> more like a stepdad. he's got the best intentions, tries to get things done for you but can't always do it. >> pamela? >> a distant cousin, probably related to the rich uncle. >> ben? >> definitely like a cousin or an uncle that is like a liberal that no one agrees with. >> ok. >> distant uncle. >> he's like my brother. and he's like your brother because? >> we can hang out and do things and we both respect -- have fun with our kids and all that but -- >> do you want your brother as president?
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>> i'm not sure i want my brother as president. >> ok, let me try this. now you can use the whole list. whole list. you've been charged unjustly and got one person to negotiate for you. who do you want? one person on this list to negotiate for you? you've been unjustly charged on something. i don't want to say what it is. who do you want? >> bill clinton. >> how many say bill clinton is the one i want? why do you all want bill clinton? been there, done that. why do you want bill clinton? >> he can do it. >> he can compromise. >> he is so smooth and so smart now.
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>> he can get you out of anything. >> he's modeled it himself, he can get you out of anything. >> ok, good. i'll take just -- look at the whole list here again. who is the one person you don't want to cross to have them angry at you? who is the one person you say, oh, boy, i don't want that person angry at me or on the other side? who is the one person i don't want on the other side angry at me? >> too many choices. >> write it down. who did you write down susan? >> michelle obama. >> how many wrote down michelle obama? half the group. why? >> she means business. >> her husband's got an army. >> that woman speaks with fire in her eyes.
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>> she'd be a scary lady when she's bhad. >> i put paul ryan. >> i put michelle obama, i don't think it would take a lot to make her mad and if you made her mad -- >> see what she did to oprah. >> ok. next question. who do you want to mediate an argument between you and your spouse? who do you want to mediate between you and your spouse? you don't want to have a divorce, you want to mediate who did you hooze? >> clinton. >> how many said clinton? quite a few. anybody else say something? >> ann romney. >> ann romney. how many said that. several. and the reason ann romney? >> she has a lot of familial experience. >> i said bill clinton.
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>> let's go with ann romney. >> she's got a lot of family experience and has been successful. >> ok. let me try this, totally different. saturday afternoon, mitt romney has two free hours. no campaign, no anything. what do you think he's doing with his two or three hours? what do you think he's doing with that two or three hours? >> no campaign? >> no, nothing campaign. two or three hours to himself. what's he doing? >> reviewing his investments. >> ok. ben says yes. he's reviewing investments. >> business related. >> it's business related. what else? >> i think he's praying. >> he's praying. ok. >> i think he's getting whoever is at the house together to have some kind of competition. >> ok. so he's doing something come
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tetpive. what else? nebraska else? >> i think he's reviewing clips of his past performances of the previous week. >> but that makes it all political. i'm just trying to see, anything else that you think he's doing. >> reading. >> reading. what's he reading? >> historical novel or a true story. >> anybody else >> playing with the grand kids. >> let's turn around. barack obama has two free hours on a saturday afternoon what's happening? >> golfing. >> golfing. what's happening? >> with his daughters. >> overall people say yes. what else? >> watching tv, sports, with his daughters. >> sports with his daughters. >> playing basketball. >> ok, what else? >> taking michelle out to a movie. >> going to a movie with michelle. >> anything else?
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>> here's an idea, say what comes to your mind. sunday dinner. ann happens to be away. ok. and mitt invites four people over for dinner. who is coming over for dinner? can't be anybody that's related to the campaign, it can't be the vice-presidential candidate. it has to be -- who do you think he'll have for dener? who is coming to dinner. if you have one idea, that's good. if you have several ideas. who do you think is coming to dinner. if he has four people who do you think he's asking to dener? ann? >> neighbors. >> who else? who is he having? >> team of cnn reporters. >> ok.
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>> i say sons and grandkids. >> kids. >> ok. anybody else? >> secretary of the treasury and some of the senate leaders. >> anybody else. >> c.e.o. of something. >> ok. ok. say sunday evening, michelle is gone, the kids are gone. and barack obama can have dinner if four people. who is he having over? who is he having dinner with? >> not netanyahu. >> ok, anybody else? everybody got an idea? who? no campaigning, no vice president. took that out of the equation. who is coming?
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>> four nba players. >> nba players. ok. >> four of his friends from chicago that he hasn't had a beer with in a while. >> chicago friends. ok, good. who is coming susan? >> i had the same idea, lebron james -- >> nba. ok, anybody else? >> his daughters. >> we took them out. mary? >> mother-in-law. >> his mother-in-law. ok. you read way too much. anybody else want to add anything in here? >> some academics and small business. >> ok, that's good. ok. let me switch, that's good. great job. let me switch if i could and ask you what do you most admire about mitt romney? anybody? >> discipline.
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>> he seems unstoppable. >> work ethic. he seems like he has a strong work ethic. >> ok, good. what to you admire about him? >> business accruemen. >> what else? >> successful. >> success. ok. successful. anybody else? >> a history of working with both sides. >> anybody else? >> experience and ethics. >> experience and eth exs. good. -- and ethics. good. and finish this season. -- this sentence. here's what really bugs me about mitt romney. here's what really bugs me about mitt romney. karlena? >> i think he's indecisive. >> here's what really bugs me, ann? >> he speaks before he thinks. >> charlie? >> just the opposite, i think
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he's too reserved. >> christina? >> i think he has cheaged his political views to be an opportunist to what he's pandering toward. >> j.a.? -- a.j.? >> stands for nothing. >> susan? >> stiff. >> dave? >> he's been a professional campaigner yet he's not very good at it. >> raj? >> inability to clearly communicate. >> ok. >> stiff, noncommunicative. >> no clear or true message. >> very wealthy. >> ok. i started with you, right? i i could keep going around. ann if you could give mitt romney one quality from a
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former republican president, reagan, bush 41, bush 43, what quality would you want to give him? you could give him one quality? i'll go around. one quality. everybody write it down so you know where you're coming from. i want to go around very quickly and for the camera, i'm going to start with raj and i'm going to go counterclockwise. >> leadership. >> leader shi of? >> what's that? >> if you could take one quality from a former. >> leadership of reagan. >> ok. >> humanity. >> of? >> of george w. bush. >> ok. >> [inaudible] >> straight talk of reagan. >> bush number two's likeability. wanting to have a beer with him. >> reagan's ability to light a fire under the economy, under
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the people in the united states. >> ok. ann? >> reagan's ability to make himself lovable. >> ok. >> reagan's ability to be a perceived force to be reckoned with. >> uh-huh. >> i say reagan's ability to persevere. >> the straight talk of reagan. >> there are about 10 qualities of reagan i would like to assign to him. just consistency. >> i think bush's shoot from the hip just to give him a little more -- less stiffness. >> and tell me something, if you could have -- if you could get him to answer one question that would help you feel more confident about voting for him, pamela, what would be the question you'd want to ask mitt?
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i'm not going to ask ben or raj who are leaning that way, or susan, but some of the others. what would you want to know from romney that would help you ? >> i'd like to see something that resembles a business plan. >> uh-huh. rich? >> i'd like to see something that he has a backup plan. you have plans to do something but if you can't get it past congress how are you going to do it? >> what's going to happen if we go to the voucher system? >> i'd like to know if details on his tax reform plan tissue the details on his tax reform plan. >> i condition concur on that one. let's see a plan and how they think it's going to work. >> charlie? >> same thing. a plan, not on taxes but on how he's going to grow the economy.
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>> christina? >> i would probably like to hear a plan as well, specifically from him, not his running mate. >> and a.j. and then dave. >> a plan to get anybody @run toy to like him. >> with everyone else, a plan. a plan on taxes, a plan on the economy. >> and without a plan that you can see, what's your concern? you haven't seen a plan in your point of view so far, what concerns you? why is this so critical for you? >> should romney be elected? >> well, it seems to me that thrrn several people who talked about boy, i want to see his plan and i want to know why is this so critical to you? why do you care about the plan? >> i personally feel that his
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record speaks for itself and we can compare the record of the last four years. that's one view. the other view of course, it would be nice if he can tease out a plan and i think it will happen by this e-- by the second debate and we'll have a better pib chuck -- picture of his plan. >> i'm trying to get the people who say, i need to see a plan, why? >>@rhetoric. >> go ahead. i agree. in business, which he claims to be a businessman, people make plans, create plans, plans change, but at least things move forward or in direction once it's put into place. >> ok, good. >> the u.s. is nothing but a big corporation. you can't go to a bank and ask for money without a business plan. how can you do it here? >> anybody else? >> to follow with that, i'd
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like to see the plan so we can make a decision if that's the plan we want to follow. >> the alternative. >> let me know. let me make an honest decision based on what i see. >> and i wonder, pall ryan is going to be the -- paul ryan will be in charge of the whole changing the medicare part when romney is the one who has had the experience as the governor of massachusetts with trying to do something with medical insurance. >> i'd like to see him a little more involved instead of having paul ryan out there all the time. >> i'm hoping to bring up a couple of d.v.d.'s that we can look at some statements. let's see.
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maybe it will come up. one other thing, here we go. we need a little help from the back room. maybe if i can get some help. let me ask one thing, if i could. in terms of barack obama. give me three adjectives to best describe him. thank you, robert. adject i haves to describe barack obama. >> enspiring.
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>> inspiring. >> smart. >> overconfident. >> strong. >> overconfident. >> strong, smart, overconfident. >> cool. >> ok. let me turn, if i could -- thanks. let me have us look at a couple of clips if we could and start with ann romney, just to get -- from their convention speech. watch it and give me a quick reaction after you've seen it. >> if you use the arrows until one of them lights up, like.
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>> point it toward the -- >> i read somewhere that mitt and i had a storybook marriage. let me tell you something, in the storybooks i read, there were never long, long rainy winter afternoons in a house with five boys screaming at one, and storybooks never had a chapter called m.s. or breast cancer. a storybook marriage, no, not at all. what mitt romney and i have is a real marriage. [applause] i know he's a decent man. he's warm and loving patient. he's tried to live his life with centered on family, faith
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and love of one's fellow man. from the time we were first married, i've seen him spent countless hours helping others. i've seen him drop everything to help a friend in trouble and when late-night calls of panic from our church whose child went to the hospital. our state is only 15% republican. but -- but let me say this, to every american who is thinking about who should be our next president, no one will work harder, no one will care more and no one will move heaven and earth like mitt romney to make this place a better place to live. >> give me your impression, anybody? >> she wants us to love him. >> how about your impression? >> her?
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>> yes. >> well-spoken and be the president -- -- perfect first lady. >> i think she's an incredible woman. to raise that many boys, i can only imagine. i think she speaks the truth, all of the wonderful things she says about him. >> yep. mary. >> dedicated asset. >> she loves her husband and her family. that's obvious. >> ann. >> he has what it takes. >> and how does he add -- she add to your impressions about mitt romney? >> he seems more human. >> makes him seem more human. >> the truth of everything he says. >> yeah. >> adds an element of reality. >> a real person, not a robot. >> others? >> i think she sees something
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that we have yet to see. >> he's private, more private. hard for him to open up in public. she gives the inside perspective. >> anybody else? >> i have a clip of mitt romney and i'll have us look at that now. >> i'm running for president to help create a better future, a future where everyone who wants a job can find a job, where no senior fears for the security of their retirement. an america where every parent knows that their child will get an education that leads them to a good job and a bright horizon. and unlike the president, i have a plan to create 12 million new jobs. [applause]
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we have five steps. first by 2020 north america will be energy independent by taking advantage of our oil, our coal, our gas and renewables. [applause] second, we'll give our fellow citizens the skills they need for the jobs of today and the careers of tomorrow. when it comes to the school your child will attend, every parent should have a choice and every child should have a chance. [applause] third, we'll make trade work for america by forging new
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trade agreements and when nations cheat in trade there will be unmistakable consequences. [applause] and fourth, to assure every entrepreneur and every job creator that their investments in america will not vanish as those in greece, we will cut the deficit and put america on track to a balanced budget. [applause] and fifth, we will champion small businesses, america's engine of job growth. that means reducing taxes on business, not raising them. it means simplifying and modernizing the regulation that hurts small business the most and it means we must rein in the skyrocketing cost of health
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care by repealing and replacing obamacare. president obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans. [laughter] and to heal the planet. my promise is to help you and your family. >> ok. reaction. what do you think, what was your thought? talked about five different ideas. what did you think about that, richie? >> it sounds all good, but it's all talk. i don't see how he's going to get it done. >> reaction, mary. what did you think? >> i say, how are you going to do that?
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some of his points. >> ben, what did you think as you watched him? >> being a geologist and working in the oil industry, the first point really kind of sets things up and if you do take back the regulations, all of the other steps easily fall into place making america energy independent will be really the greatest thing for the country. and he's really pushing that. all of the other things easily fall into place. >> christina, what did you think as you saw this? >> for every one of the points he made, i felt there was a subtext, somebody's going to get richer and then it's going to trickle down to you. >> and charlie, what did you think? >> well, i don't mind somebody getting richer because it does trickle down and i didn't see the convention but i agree with ben. under obama the e.p.a.'s put so many roadblocks on the economy
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that you get rid some of those roadblocks i think the economy would do better. >> susan, what did you think when you saw this? >> he didn't promise to balance the budget but he said on track to balance the budget. >> when you watched this did you feel more celebrity towards romney? in other words, you were leaning? does this make you feel closer or i'm still in the same place? >> it just justifies where i am. meaning -- >> ann, what did you think? >> i hate that 12 million jobs. just some of the things were going on nicely but 12 million seems like such a big number. >> how's he going to do that? >> uh-huh. >> i understand there are lots of ways. >> other point of view. >> want to see the jobs first
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and that's good. that's been my biggest complaint with the current administration that the jobs haven't been on the forefront. the thing that sticks with me is an education plan and i really support that choice. and i know that the current president supports it. it's not a big deal. you know, either way any more. but -- but knows are the things that stuck out to me. >> yeah. anybody else? >> trade agreements. what is this man going to do about china? >> china. >> did i not hear him say that word once? i like what i heard. >> yeah. >> but, again, i'm with you. how? the word how kept coming up. >> anybody? >> wasn't speaking to you. i don't know who he was speaking to me. it was not to me. >> ok. let me turn and just quickly do barack obama.
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three adjectives used to describe him. >> cool. >> cool was one of mine also. >> arrogant. >> and why arrogant? >> well, the way he has his presence and he is a great speaker and he is so convincing but then when you see that things haven't happened it's just a feeling i get that it's just that he can say it and blow us off that we're going to believe it, that seems arrogant. >> rich. >> strong. >> ok. >> pamela. >> i said overconfident and it has to do with mary's comment. a lot of talk. very well said. very well stated. great intent. >> i'd agree with pamela and mary. >> not practical. >> i said inspiring but i'm more on the cool. like he says it but where's the -- where is it? >> cool, confident.
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where does this leave you as you think about him and this re-election, huh, mary? >> that's what has me thinking i'm not as in favor of him as i was. it's leaving me a little disappointed because i'm not just seeing the outcome that i want to see. >> and the outcome i want to see is what, mary? >> is more jobs. and the economy improving at a quicker rate than it has. >> where does it leave pamela? >> i'm -- as far as my vote one way or the other? >> yeah. i'm just trying to sort of understand. >> i don't believe a man in that position can get much done in four years. and there's a part of me that still wants to give him the chance because i think he had some great ideas and because of his confidence, i was -- i was
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hoping against all hope. he's so relatively young and new in the game. romney's not. he just got started as far as i'm concerned. so i feel like, you know, maybe another four years he might get the hang of it and get some stuff accomplished. >> ok. we're on adjectives. as far as obama. >> friendly, likable but not presidential material. >> intrepid, determined and is there an adjective for underdog? [laughter] >> respected on the worldwide stage. optimistic and engaging. >> charlie. >> a very good talker. i voted for him last time. they're right. he hasn't accomplished what he said he was going to. but that's why i'm undecided. >> ann. >> he talks a good game but he
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is hesitant in action. >> biggest accomplishment? biggest accomplishment? write it down. biggest accomplishment. go around the table and start with ben. we're going to do it in 10 seconds each. >> health care. >> sorry, i need more time. >> health care. >> i think getting people involved. bin laden. >> ann. >> bin laden. >> health care. >> health care. >> bin laden's dead. >> killing osama bin laden. >> bin laden. >> health care. >> and the health care is the biggest accomplishment. and how many see that as a positive accomplishment? a.j., christina and mary, etc. and it's a big accomplishment because -- >> for the uninsured. that's a big one to just get
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that done. >> however he got it done it's a big deal. >> ok. >> children are able to be insured longer when they are in college. >> ok. >> others. ann. >> he let the secretary of defense not have that kind of coverage for military children for a number of months, almost a year. >> ok. >> pamela. health care a big deal? >> i'm out of my bounds here. i think it was a big deal as far as an accomplishment is concerned. i still can't get my head around what it means. >> ok. biggest disappointment? >> write it down on paper? >> or just say it. >> health care again.
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>> debt ceiling. >> employment. >> economy. >> deficit. >> economy. >> ok. tell me one thing. finish the sentence. here's what really bugs me about barack obama. here's what really bugs me about barack obama. >> there's just so many things. [laughter] >> yeah. his arrogance. he's friendly but he's arrogant. he's not talking to me. >> he took so long to do things for gay rights. >> resources he threw to the unions. >> his hesitancy for things like katrina where he didn't show up for more than two weeks. >> his ability to really reach across the aisle. i think washington is more
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partisan now than before. >> i'm in 100% with karlena in just with partisanship. they weren't able to come with agreement. >> what can he do for other four years? pamela? >> what bugs me is his inexperience. >> the stimulus going to the places that it did. >> scary future if he gets elected. >> ok. let me do -- anybody want to give him a quality from a former president? anybody want to give him a quality. >> lyndon johnson. i'd bank him a politician. >> i want to give him -- >> clinton skill of -- >> sam rayburn. >> what you want from sam rayburn who didn't quite make the presidency. >> no. he was too tight.
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>> ok. good, anybody else? let me see. thank you very much. let's see if we can get up the -- oh, we need robert's fine hands to make this work. let's see if we can get this -- big system so it needs a little help. >> storybook marriage. well --
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>> go back to the menu. ok. we'll go to michelle. ok. we'll first hear from michelle. >> barack knows the american dream because he's lived it. and he wants everyone in this country, everyone to have the same opportunity no matter who we are or where we're from or what we look like or who we love. [applause] and he believes that when you work hard and done well and walk through that doorway of opportunity you do not slam it shut behind you. no. you reach back and you give other folks the same chances
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that helped you succeed. so when people ask me whether being in the white house has changed my husband. i can honestly say when it comes to his character and his convictions and his heart, barack obama is still the same man i fell in love with all those years ago. he's the same man who started his career by turning down high-paying jobs and instead working in struggling neighborhoods where a field plant had shut down, fighting to rebuild those communities and get those back to work, because for barack, success isn't about how much you make. it's about the difference you
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make in people's lives. >> reaction. david. >> just as far as what she was talking about what he did after graduation and that stuff, that strikes home. that means a lot to me. but it's not necessarily -- not everyone -- you know, i don't know how much school debt he had as opposed to other people who came out who had to make other choices. that thing sort of sticks with me. >> reaction mary. >> she's relatable. you know, just the fact that they've had hard times and he's had to work his way up and didn't -- wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth, you know, and the commitment and didcation that she has -- dedication that she has is a plus. >> ann. >> polished. >> any other feeling? >> she's showing he's a nice guy but she's not telling why we should vote for him. she reminded me of the fact
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that he's never had a job. >> ok. christina. >> i feel like i heard it before and it just seems very similar to 2008 but it doesn't have the same effect on me that it did back then. >> ok. pamela. >> i felt like both conventions were political infomercials. >> susan. >> and convincing. >> yeah. infomercial. i didn't watch any of the democratic convention because i heard it all already. >> raj, what did you think? >> there was no denying the connection she had with the crowd. >> oh, yeah. >> i feel like i -- whether it's one degree of separation, i feel she's like someone i would know personally. so it does seem believable. >> yeah. >> ok. let me have you watch part of barack obama's speech. >> when all is said and done,
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when you pick up that ballot to vote, you will face the clearest choice of any time in a generation. over the next few years, big decisions will be made in washington on jobs, the economy, taxes and deficits, energy, education, war and peace, decisions that will have a huge impact on our lives and our children's lives for decades to come. and on every issue, the choice you face won't just be between two candidates or two parties. it will be a choice between two different paths for america. a choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future. ours is a fight to restore the values that built the largest middle class and the strongest economy the world has ever known. [applause]
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the values my grandfather defended as a sold yar. the values that drove my grandmother to work on a bomber assembly line while he was gone. they knew they were part of something larger. a nation that triumphed over fascism and depression. the nation where the most innovative businesses turned out the world's best products. and everyone shared in that pride and success from the corner office to the factory floor. my grandparents were given the chance to go to college -- own their own home and fulfill the basic bargain at the heart of america's story. the promise that hard work will pay off. that responsibility will be rewarded. that everyone gets a fair shot and everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same rules from main street to wall street to washington, d.c.
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>> ok. let me ask a question. your reaction to that. >> i think he said a lot of things that like everybody agrees with because it wasn't really saying this is what i think. it's just in general so you're like, yeah, i agree with him 85% of the time. and it's just when it comes to my personal opinion it's like i think mitt romney would do a better job with what you're talking about. but i think it was a good speech if you -- if you wanted to vote for him it would make you want to vote for him more. if you're leaning towards mitt romney i think it pushes you more toward mitt romney. >> ok. pamela, you're not leaning one way or the other. >> he's right about the issues in the categories and, yes, it's going to be a difficult choice because, yes, there's a lot we have to fix. but, you know, everyone gets a fair shot and a fair share. good luck with that. life isn't fair. across the board it's just not fair. so there again, he's just overconfident and unrealistic.
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i don't know. it gives me the creeps. >> gave you the creeps. >> that was the past. what about tomorrow? >> what do you need to hear from him about tomorrow? >> what's our plan? we are in a quagmire. how are we going to get out of this? >> what i'd like to hear one candidate -- i couldn't care what party they're from -- i don't care what party they're from saying, i don't know what to do and why don't you guys help me figure it out? let's get the people involved again. let's hear what you have to say. that's why i'm loving this whole -- >> it will come across too weak. >> carlena, what do you think? >> i felt this speech, there was definitely a level of humility there. it was almost like -- begging would be too harsh but to a
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certain extent i felt like he was trying to talk to me like, ok, i know you were enthusiastic the first time you voted for me. would you do it again? and i wasn't really sure if he could complete the plan as he initially presented it. >> david. >> there's just two things that stick out and bother me about president obama. one thing is this idea that he pulled himself up out of nothing and that he was raised by a single mother and all this. now, he did have a single mother but he was -- he went to the best schools the nation has to offer. i mean, he went to columbia, harvard. he's not like everyone else and this idea that, oh, he's come up from the bottom, no. he had supportive people behind him the whole way who put him to the best way possible. and the second thing is his inability to compromise or to work with people. i said l.b.j. because l.b.j.
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did the great society and he was able to talk to people and convince people, hey, you may have grown up this way but that's not fair. you know, it's not fair that you get a great schooling but in person doesn't and he found a way to get people to get onboard with him. he hasn't been able to do that yet. it just bothers me. >> communistic. everything is equal. everyone gets everything. >> that's true. that's not right. you look at a school. some people work for their grades. other people just float along. and life's like that. and to say that everybody deserves the same is not right. >> raj, what did you think of the speech? >> i thought the speech was ok. i think it had a hard time living up to the one that took place the night before. >> definitely. >> and you definitely get the sense there was a shadow he was trying to step out of there.
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but i also -- just to touch on an earlier point, it's difficult to reach across the aisle where every single time you try to reach across it gets bitten by a pitbull. and that is what has happened time after thousands of times over the last four years. >> and let me hear from christina and mary. >> i was disappointed by his abuse of the word ours. maybe i was taking it out of context but i don't like the idea of us versus them in politics because i don't think that gets us anywhere. and then i also -- it was similar to what he did in 2008 but this time my eyes were open more wide. it was nothing really concrete. it was just good feelings in his speech. >> mary. >> and it's like i wanted to be inspired but i wasn't. >> and you weren't because -- >> because there just felt like i wanted to say, where's the beef? something's missing here.
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>> anybody else? couple other things i wanted to discuss. one thing mary started out which i heard a few times and that is the whole question of medicare, redoing medicare. is it good, bad, make any difference to anybody? anybody see this as an opportunity or as something that would be a challenge, anybody have any feelings? >> something that's got to be done. regardless. put it on the right track. >> my generation isn't going to have the same thing that most people here are going to be entitled to. so there does need to be a change that does not take away things from like my parents that are banking on social security but we can't live in the false reality of that i'll be able to get it. there needs to be something.
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>> it has to be adjusted. 65 can't be the golden goose. we live a lot longer. >> it needs to be expanded. >> yeah. >> as i understand it, does anybody know about the plans that mitt romney and paul ryan are expressing? >> no. i wish i did. >> i think they were saying they were going to raise the social security age to 75 but they're talking about -- >> does anybody have any idea about the medicare program that romney or ryan are -- >> i think the details have been very limited as far as what's been in the press. >> and money is going to be assigned to states and then the states would do with it what they think is best for their state. >> ok. but it sounds to me like --
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>> i'm 60 years old and it's not going to affect my generation. these changes are going to -- like he said, will affect other generations. >> anybody under 55 will be affected. >> they looked at 2040 the time it would effect. and then of course the politics came out that oh, they're going to take away grandma's nest egg. no. >> and the problem with medicare now, from what i understand from friends in a are on medicare -- i'm not but a lot of my friends are -- they have a problem finding doctors that will even see them. at least with a voucher i think the doctors -- a voucher is like money. right now there's no vouchers or anything but you go to a doctor and if you say they're on medicare they don't have any room for you. they don't have any appointments for you. i got a friend that had to visit six different doctors just to get an appointment for
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something. >> how many say i just don't know enough to have an opinion? ok. so that's basically everybody around the room. ok. that's interesting. how about obamacare, does anybody have any sense of how romney -- president romney would handle it and what would change? how many say i don't know? don't know about obamacare. >> i don't know all the details. >> it's complicated. >> i know bits and pieces but my whole thing is i -- there's this whole issue about pre-existing conditions. when i lost my job i was able to pay into -- our company had less than 50 employees so for three months i was allowed to pay the cobra price, so to speak. and then the health insurance privacy protection act, hipaa,
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allows you to go out and look for your own insurance and pay for it but because i had a pre-existing condition, the policy that i was going to go into had a $3,000 deductible and it was $600 a month. and because hipaa allows you to have this pre-existing condition and get insurance but it didn't say anything about paying approximately $10,000, i said i gamble and hope i don't get sick. so now i'm trying to figure out if this new particular law, how that's going to affect people that do have pre-existing conditions, is there going to be a price difference? the internet says it's not. there will be a flat line price. but i'd like to see it in action. i'd like to see it. >> here's what fascinates me. and you've done a marvelous job and i thank you so much.
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here's what fascinates me. you're on a plan and yet i would have to say at this moment a lot of this -- a lot of this is not getting through to you. you don't have any sense of necessarily what president obama wants to do or what governor romney wants to do. is that true? >> true. >> and so you got a debate coming up very soon. what do you want to hear from them? what do they have to tell you? i mean, pamela, i'm president obama. i'm dying for your vote. charlie, i'm governor romney, i'm dying for your vote. mary, i'm both candidates, i'm dying for your votes. you're, quote, saying you're genuinely undecided. david's giving a lone lean one way. susan is pretty committed i think. you both seem fairly committed. i think a.j.'s committed
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towards president obama. i think you are also. but you guys have people who are going to decide this election so you talk about where you're at and your position in life and you talk about this debate coming up and your disappointments with president obama and your uncertainties about mitt romney. how do you decide what do you need to hear in this debate? that's what it's about. what do you need to hear? >> i can't answer what you're asking me to do. i'm hoping -- which is probably really stupid on my part -- that somebody is going to pull something incredible out of the air that nobody's thought about before and we're all going to go, yes, that's it. and -- >> it's not going to happen. >> of course not.
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>> so -- but given your situation where you're at, what's going to help you decide? i mean, clearly there are things about mitt romney you don't like. there are things about barack obama you're unhappy with. there are things that make them each interesting to you. how do you decide? >> it's going to be emotional, i can tell you that. you're asking me what they're going to say to me -- yeah, it's going to be an emotional feeling based on something they say that wrings true with regard to humanity, the struggles, a realistic opinion about what it is we as americans as a whole need to achieve. and it's -- i tend to want to hear about global -- foreign policy because, again, it's not just us here in the united states. i want to hear something --
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>> foreign policy. >> obama only because he's had this much experience. that's why i want to know who their advisor are. that would influence my vote tremendously. >> mary, fascinated with you because you've been both terribly supportive and terribly critical. and i think terribly realistic also. >> i want some answers. and i realize in a debate it's unreasonable to think you're going to get a plan. but i also feel like, you know, if there is some structure with the how you're going to do this and what's it going to look like and how are you going to put it together and if is very worrisome because obama can't get people to work with him. and, you know, mitt romney has a piece of it that is essential with his strong business background. so to get the economy moving forward, just what are you going to do? how are you going to do it?
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>> do you find yourself itching closer toward romney or do you look at him and say there are things i don't like about him and leaves you right in the middle or where are you? >> when i watched both of the conventions, you know, when i watched the first one and i was all for romney. i watched the second one, i wasn't any more. so for me it's -- you know, it's just hard. it's hard to decide because i know it's important. >> you're going to get one of them. >> yeah. and the one thing that hasn't come up is women's health and women's rights. >> and who do you think will be better on women's health and women's rights just instinctively? >> obama. >> and does that make a difference to you? >> yes. one part of it. >> ann, here you are with these
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marvelous observations and we have sam rayburn in here. tell me where you're at and what is the -- what's the -- what's the point at which you come out on all of this? >> at the debate i would like to see how well they talk on their feet without stumbling over a number of things. let's not have somebody say, i knew jack kennedy and you're not him. let's say have them come prepared with some rudimentry concrete plans and give us an inkling of where they would like the country to go and how they think they might be able to do it. >> and who did you vote for four years ago? >> john mccain. >> and why aren't you lockstep for romney this time around?
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>> i am more interested because i think we are in such a quagmire, i am more interested in really hearing what both sides have to say, especially if we can get down to the nitty gritty part of it. >> what is it they'd say, it's time to go for obama as far as staying with romney? i'd like to see him reform the department of education, the e.p.a. and a lot of those other things that have -- and really take a look at regulations and some of the laws on the books. that are outdated or really were just put out so that someone could make a lot of money from it. >> charlie, i've listened to you for four hours. i can't call you undecided. i can -- you could say you're undecided but i've only heard
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one side coming from you. in other words, not different from what i heard from raj or ben. and so why won't romney get your vote? i just can't imagine -- >> i am leaning towards romney i guess and part of that is what i saw on the tv here because i didn't watch the debates. i figured it would just be -- >> the convention. >> it's based on what i saw here and i am leaning a little bit towards romney and i think i feel tricked by obama. i voted for him. i really believed in him. i thought he had a great platform when he was elected. but he hasn't really accomplished that much. obamacare, i'm very much for health care, for universal health care but, again, i feel tricked. you know, the supreme court says it's a tax and i'm kind of thinking, yeah, it is more and more of a tax. and one of the areas i feel
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tricked on, he says he doesn't want to raise taxes for people that make less than $250,000. well, i make a lot less than $250u7bd, but i'm paying a heck of a lot more in taxes, not through the i.r.s. but through regulations that are taking money out of my pocket. the value of the dollar goes down, the price of gasoline goes up. that's just basic economics. and to me that's a tax. >> i will go around the table. final comment. thank you all, by the way, very, very much. this being done, as i said, for the anneburg public policy center at the university of virginia. always important to note their work. and it's so illuminating and so helpful and i can feel, mary, everything that you're going through. ann, i'm equally fascinated. pamela, i can hear the struggle where you are. and for the others of you, each of you are arriving at this in a fascinating way.
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but my final question is really going to be, you can deliver one message, and don't say, give me a plan. i heard that. got it. got it, got it. but there's one thing that you would like to be able deliver. as i mentioned, the media's behind here watching all of this. any message which you say, this is what i'd like the candidates to know as they go into the final month and a half. i'll start with ben and end with raj and do it very quickly around. ben, what's the message? >> just that the job creation is the most important thing that's going for the country right now. >> and do you feel like you know what mitt romney's going to do for job creation? >> i think the five-step plan really shows you where he's aiming. >> ok. good. pamela. >> hear somebody cares about ben about his generation and my
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younger son's generation. i want to hear that they're thinking forward and care about what it is these people are going to have to deal with when they're my age. >> do you feel one of the two candidates speaks to you better that understands both where you are and where your kids are at? >> i would have to say romney. >> and i feel romney comes closer to me because -- >> because he seems more realistic. he understands business and possibly how we could make this economy work which would automatically fix and/or guarantee something for down the road. it would turn things around, create a spiral in the other direction. >> good. richard. >> i'm going after the lesser of two evils here. i go out for obama becausee's already in there and hopefully he's heading in the right direction versus getting romney
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in there and starting fresh. >> and who did you vote for four years ago? >> mccain. >> mccain. so you're switching over? >> yeah. >> good. mary. >> well, i think it's come out tonight that there's so much confusion and what i want to know is how can you just speak straight up to the american people so that we understand what's going to be on the platform? what is it, you know? >> and who did you vote for four years ago? >> obama. >> ok. good. karlena. >> similar to richard, with president obama already being in office, you know, continue your plan and at the end of eight years, you know, then we'll evaluate where we are and then i'll determine whether i'll go democrat again or, you know, back to my independent stance on voting on people on the issues. >> ann, you voted four years
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ago for -- >> mccain. >> and here you are at this stage and what do you think >> it reminds me of the two-headed monster on "sesame street" where they're pulling each other at the end but they get themselves back together with cooperation and collaboration. >> and who's the cooperation candidate? >> is that -- i'd like to think romney is. >> and you think like to think romney is -- >> because he's -- well, he's a politician. because he has had to do more wheeling and dealing in business. >> romney should have had your vote from the beginning. you're a mccain voters four years later. why doesn't he have it? should be a lock down.
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>> you know, it should be locked down but -- and i can't tell you what it is in the back of my mind. and i think part of it has to do with the republican platform. and the women's health issues which should not be an issue. >> good. charles. >> i want to see some good answers in the debates. i don't want to see a bunch of name calling and blame. i want to see people, you know, the candidates come out and really lay on the line what they're going to do. and, you know, not be diverted by political questions and stuff. i want to hear what they want to do. and i think the candidate that gives me that i'll vote for him. >> christina. you voted four years ago for -- >> barack obama. >> and you're staying with him. >> most likely. >> and you're staying with him
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because? >> i think a lot of the social issues and women's health-type issues are making it hard for me to move towards the republican platform. but i do like a lot of the things on the republican platform. i think that mitt romney -- one of the things he has going for him is he has a history of working well with the other party and that's what we need right now. but part of me can't get past some of the other little things. >> other little things being -- >> women's health. gay issues. the right for everybody to marry. those types of things kind of hold me back some full-heartedly saying, mitt romney has worked well together in the past. maybe he can in the future. >> ok. a.j. >> romney, i was really hoping there would be a good alternative.
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if there was a mccain-type character out this year or going back even further, bob dole or jack kemp, if there was a couple guys on the republican ticket that didn't defend the sensibilities, i would be closer in the middle but there isn't. there is the result of, you know, a panda bear who has bought his way in the republican side that has tried to shore up his base. >> ok. susan. >> it's not a big family. i'd like someone who's successful in business running the country. >> good. david. four years ago you voted for -- >> i voted for both candidates. >> ok. how did you do that? >> i voted for mccain in the prime and then i voted for barack obama in the general election. >> ok. >> and that was because i was a
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mccain supporter in 2000 and i got turned off when we got to the general election. >> ok. talk to me about obama's got your support, slightly leaning towards him. >> he does because i'm just not sure about mitt romney. i want to see him be able to work with both sides but obama's got my support as the lesser of two evils right now. you know, and that's -- that's really where i fall. >> ok. and raj, conclude it for us. >> i voted for obama last time and i'm leaning towards romney mainly because of the economy. and i think national security he will be stronger. i am worried about a republican congress and will hopefully be less of a gridlock.
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>> we covered it. we covered the world. we got only a few weeks to stay involved. listen, there's a lot going on here and and the advice, the thoughts are exactly the kinds of things the candidates need to hear. so on behalf of the anneburg public policy center, i want to thank each and every one of you for joining us. and we'll see where it goes from here. thank you, all, very, very much. [applause] >> you made it interesting. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] providing funding to ensure the printing and production of the authorized number of copies of the revised and updated version of the house document entitled "hispanic americans in congress," and for other purposes
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snoose [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] >> ok. what was interesting. what are surprised you? what was -- what was interesting? >> we spend a lot of time on the campaign trail and undecided voters that are still at this point in the cycle agonizing and flip-flopping, going back and forth having one woman she was one way and went in the other -- it's hard psychology. most people are what they are. they are decided almost at birth. these are people, a lot of them, that are not. >> and by the way, i should state that's why i brought them in the room because we know what the 90% of americans are
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and we could have brought them in and been exactly what we've seen and known and i wanted to try to look at that 10%. some out to be a little more decided than i expected. but overall i think your point here is these are the people who are at the rallies who are anguishing but in many cases are anguishing because neither candidate sort of fulfills what they want and where their vision is. >> you have a group of people who feel like the economy is getting better and have good things to say about the economy and how optimistic they were and they said, i don't know if i could vote for obama again. so he's obviously getting zero credit for what they see is a success. >> i was sfruck by the fact that compared to the last group you did, the one in milwaukee, these were clearly -- they know
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more than those. and yet you have these tremendous gaps where it got to the medicare and they didn't have a clue. about what anyone was proposing. >> obamacare, which is already the law, it's done. what did people know about obamacare? >> they got the point. they got the thing about kids being covered and about pre-existing conditions so the ones who had had some experience with it knew exactly why they liked it i thought. but it's on the future, how much -- how much is everyone written about medicare and about ryan's plan and about voucher? some used the word voucher. they are a more intelligent, educated group than -- >> women's health care if you watch tv here, which we all have, that's what's been dominating. >> that's what struck me is the difficulty of campaigns communicating a message. how hard it is for candidates
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and people who work for them to penetrate because a lot of things -- a lot of plans have been offered and they're just not aware of them. >> i was really surprised how little they knew because it's all out. they should know more than they actually agreed on. >> i thought that -- i thought this group knew what was more aware of things that have been going on in the campaign. >> exactly. >> than any group i ever watched. i mean, it was staggering that just sort of the familiar yaret in a they had with things. and what i think it tells us is that they want specifics, they want a plan but that's not what's going to affect them. i thought pamela's comment at the end, it's going to be emotional, said a lot about the few people who are really undecided. peter, this was a group of undecided voters, 60% of them aren't undecided or pretty close to not being undecided.
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>> i agree. >> you're down to a small number of people. and they're looking for something and it is some spark that's going to get them more. >> they also said they want a plan. they don't tell us about the plan. and in the end you had the impression they don't want a plan. you know, they are longing for a plan but at the same time they don't want to be -- >> that's a placeholder for the emotions. >> yeah. >> they absorbed a lot of the campaign talking points. not the proactive ones. the criticism. he doesn't have a plan. that's what it sounds like a lot of people -- even the romney-leaning people seem to repeat that kind of obama campaign criticism. >> do you have thoughts? >> well, i thought people aren't as undecided as they think they are. and that became pretty evident as the group went on. so -- >> one of the things that interested me is sort of how if you followed the threads through, it's almost that you had to look at the threads to
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be able to see the pattern. and if you stopped and you listened right from the beginning, the first thing that you learned was the economy's better. and if you're the incumbent president of the united states, that has to be good news. second thing that you heard was, these people got a lot of messages out of the last week that it wasn't like the last week was something that nobody sort of looked. all of a sudden it became a pause point for a lot of people and for them that created the difficulty in terms of -- in terms of mitt romney. and then you got, as amy said, at the end you got another thread of the women's health issues and all of those things. so there were a whole bunch of things that they sort of told you but then they were telling you another story which is the story of, gee, i wish barack obama listened.
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i wished barack obama wasn't quite that cocky, that he wasn't quite that certain. that they want a certain -- i guess humility, a sense of touching people. and so i sort of thought, you got both sides and the other thing that fascinated me is the strength of the two women. i mean, clearly when we went around the room and we talked about michelle obama, you could just feel the room light up and how unbelievably respected and effective she was. but then when you got to the film, all of a sudden you recognized that ann romney clearly represents that inner strength, she brings the realism. she did everything that her husband hasn't done and hasn't been able to get there. mark, where were you on thinking about that? >> i think you voted on the
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22nd amendment they would have repealed it. and the clinton-michelle obama -- that came through. the bloom is very much off the rose on obama. i think anybody who doubts that, i think the formulation of the insulter was this affection -- the question is defection. i think it's somewhere between. you could see that with each of the -- there's a mass disaffection for him. but the question is, defection. and it's like with the church or something. i'm angry. i'm not going to do it. that's where i am. when i heard mary at the end, she to me was sort of the quintessential. the fact that these people got so much out of the conventions, i mean, they really absorbed so much. and david, i mean, wow. >> unbelievable.
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>> he had more angles. i don't put that in a machiavellian way. he was really multifaceted. >> it was hard to see -- because we didn't have the tab lution who had went to mccain before. it didn't seem to me it was necessarily going to end up with a big romney gain because there was a lot of mccain people who were very hesitant of whether they wanted to go with romney. >> one guy was for mccain and was definitely for obama. >> that canceled out by -- >> and one who was undecided. . >> and there were times when one of them, it wasn't him who said he thought obama was his brother, he love odd because macare, he said it would be the worst day of his life if he was
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to get re-elected. >> with regard to the three women, i think that from my point of view, in the last session i did in milwaukee, michelle was just quintessential voter who you could see the struggle of what was going on. it felt mary was much the same. different generations, they're going through this same kind of struggle and if barack obama wins them, he's going to win the election. if he loses these two women, this one's up for grabs. i think pam was undecided, mary was undecided. >> samantha is quintessential,
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it was interesting, she was very emotional. pamela. sorry. she was very emotional, what she said is about the gut feelings. at the end she said, i'm leaning thwart mitt romney. all of what she said, you know, was in favor of obama. he's there for four years. >> but she roted -- voted for mccain it turned out. >> this i didn't get. >> if you're going to ask for something to be totally irrational -- totally rational, don't talk very long. just go in and get the one sentence. if you go through the complexities of these people and that's why you need to hear. i don't think every question is
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equal. you see romney with all the same problems that he had at the beginning of the campaign. don't miss his strength, which is he's a businessman, he may be able to help this. >> what do you think, from starting out in your early focus groups, that obama has solved. >> he's gotten more of a message across. there's a psychological sense that america is better than it was. but has barack obama done what he needed to do? no, because he hasn't given the voters a sense of the second term and there's that other element and i'm going to draw to an ancient past but an important past.
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bill clinton ran for re-election as governor in 1980 after the first two years. the voters were mad, it wasn't a good economy, and i said to governor clinton at that time, if these people could give you a slap across the feas, they will. but if they knew that they were the final vote between deciding to re-elect you or not, they would re-elect you. and there's some of that that's clearly going across here, which is cool, too much, it's the nba stars, it is not all of those things. and he needs some way for the voters to -- who want to see tomorrow but number two, to feel that there's been some learning process and i posit that he did well at the convention but i think he left too much on the table right now.
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that's my take on it. john, you've seen a lot of this. how does it strike you compared to other ones? >> well, i had not seen the other ones you've done this year. it struck me as not all that bad for obama, there was enough of ares. vaw of good will for him to draw on but i also thought that around the table, that the businessman had some strength to it. so that impressed me. >> it was definitely the most upbeat was the one you did in denver, where there was weather related questions and it was like early spring for most people or more advanced than that. the graphs you put up, most people pick b thinking the economy was going to -- it's a country that's been touched in some way by the downturn. there was a lot that was very northern virginia about the whole thing.
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everyone talked about the desire for bipartisanship, cooperation, that seemed to be one of the overwhelming themes in a lot of ways, the sense of gridlock, there was a lot more forgiveness around the table toward obama looking at congress than you found in milwaukee. an the wisconsin one was so down, it was like another country. >> that was a month ago? >> but i also thought in terms of the perceptions of the president and the congress, there is -- there was a belief expressed by a number of people that in one way or another, doesn't know what to do about this. and this question of, faced with a republican congress in the second term, what in the heck will he do? >> david's comment about wanting him to be l.b.j. >> and the phrase no plan b. that captured that. >> what surprised me is also that all were mentioning the economy as the main problem but
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at the same time they were talking about foreign politics. so it surprised me that, you know, the events of the last days really, you know, energized them. >> and it came right out of the chute. first thing. and it defines romney in a negative way. i was fascinated with this. wasn't something that crept by. it put him into a spotlight that was uncomfortable. >> i don't think it was as much foreign policy as an insight into romney. they saw a quality -- qualities in him they found unappealing. they rushed in. it was a cheap shot. didn't show the kind of presidential restraint. >> reminded me of gary hart, remember gary hart when the korean airliner was shot down with congressman donald on it they asked gary hart what he would do, he said i'd put up
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jets next to it and look in windows. it was just so -- such a silly answer before deciding whether to shoot it down. kind of a stupid answer. disqualifying. >> of the three who really are undecided, two of them voted for mccain. >> i think it was 6-6 last time. >> it is a statistic. thank you very much. >> the point is they're going both ways. >> final thoughts? >> to me, dave summed it up what a lot of people are going to end up doing. that feels like where most of the voters. they go through these debates.
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they go to the ballot box, no one lived up to what i asked them to live up to so who is the guy who is not as bad? >> women's issues may upset them. >> i would say that susan did not listen if she did hear it, didn't pay much attention to mario cuomo's 1984 speech, america is a business. >> can you find out why obama took two weeks to go to katrina? >> i'm here to take in information. i'm not here to dispense. >> i think it's great restraint when someone says something like that.
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>> they need help but at the same time there's an awful lot going into this debate that these people know and it is the question mark that they've been trying to get answered all the way through the election. rather than turning into periods of exclamation points. thank you all for joining us. >> join us later today at 5:30 eastern when marine corps commandant put forth by the president earlier this year. the live from the atlantic council here at 5:30 eastern. the u.s. house met earlier with a pro forma session, legislative work gets under way tomorrow, state welfare program
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waivers and energy production regulations among the issues they'll debate. watch the house live here on c-span, the senate on our companion network c-span2. join us for another congressional hearing. we'll hear from the justice department's director horwets. that's live on thursday on c-span3. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] >> up next, they release the
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green rankings of u.s. presidents which include the criteria and rankings of the president and confirm the democratic and republican presidents. this is about an hour. >> thank you, everyone, for coming here today. my name is tyler hamilton, i'm editor in chief of corporate knights magazine, with me is tobey heeps. we call our pubblesation for -- publication for economic capitalism. actors know the fuel impact of their actions. it's about information empowering markets to foster a better world. a big part of clean capitalism
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is regulation. a healthy, sustainable environment is a prerequisite for long-term economic growth. we ask ourselves who is the greenest president in history? who put in place the policies capitalism depends on and thrives. america's forests, rivers, lakes and air have changed dramatically over the last two centuries as have environmental priorities. also do you judge a past president on intentions, results or a combination of both? and how do you weigh them? how do you measure the impact? david roberts of "grist" magazine told me when we discussed this project with him, there's something slightly
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arbitrary about the exercise. opinions will differ, that's why we decided to let the experts in environmental community do the heavy lifting on this. the results are a first of its kind ranking of the greenest presidents in u.s. history, determined by 12 of the leading environmentalists in the country. in alphabetical order, the president of the natural resources defense council, robert bruniei, the president of the world watch institute, president of rebuild the dream, president of the union of concerned scientists, the founder of 350.org, ralph nader, founder of public citizen, president of friends of earth, the executive director of greenpeace u.s.a., carter roberts, c.e.o. of wwf u.s.a., joe rahm, publisher of
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climate progress. each was canned to give us the top three choices. we assigned a top score of three to the top choice, two to the second and one to the lowest. we added it up to determine the final ranking. i now ask tony to talk to us about the ranking and what it tells uh us about the tradition of environmental protection in the white house. thank you. >> in the absence of a drum roll, the winner, the top two scoring presidents in u.s. history are from a party that today is not often linked to the environment. they were original environmentalists in their own rights. it won't come as a surprise to many that teddy roosevelt was named the greenest president in u.s. history, according to our poll of 12 prominent u.s.
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environmental leaders. he has a rod of conserving land, over 10% he helped to protect, 10 pk of the land mass of the united states. he was the original conservationist. he protected the environment from industry and man because he thought that was an important thing to do so the veerment would be around for us to enjoy and also for it to exist as a sacred right unto itself. the second winner comes as a surprise to many, some environmentalists are -- would claim he doesn't have -- didn't have a green bone in his body, i'm speak otching richard nixon. nixon really makes you nostalgic if you're an environmentalist in many ways. but he laid down the bedrock foundations for modern environmentalism. he -- on his watch, the environmental protection agency
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was created, the state drinking water was initiated, substantial enhancements to the clean air act, and a whole raft of environmental legislation that framed much of the progress we have an able to make on the environment. third was jimmy carter. jimmy carter came in with grand ambitions and he put solar panels on the white house roof and he wore a sweater since -- to inspire energy efficiency but his seminal accomplishment, aside from the 100 million acres he protected in alaska was opening up the nation's mind to the vision and possibility of achieving clean energy independence. that's a vision that is moving afoot. when you contrast jimmy carter and the person who came after him, ronald reagan. i thought reagan if you look at the presidents and measure them on impact vs. intent, ronald reagan, nobody is making a
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strong case that ronald reagan was a large environmentalist, we do remember that his -- about his comment about trees causing pollution but he did by many counts help celebrate the demise of the cold war which brought about the economic collapse of the soviet union and caused their greenhouse gas emotions to plunge by over a billion tons a year and so indirectly, ronald reagan deserves some responsibility for taking out over 10 million tons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. no one is going to call him a climate change crusader but based on impact he did have a large contribution. so it's with that it's my honor to segue into introducing the first of our four judges who is with us to deliver some comments and add context and perspective. a man who has been a mentor and a great inspiration for presidents and many leaders around the world and journalists and people leek myself, ralph nader, he --
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people like myself. ralph nader. he was there in a seminal role, helping to instigate and agitate and do the hard policy work that made it possible for people like nixon to be the second greenest president in u.s. history and he was there, many of his people that he pioneered different things with, were there in the carter administration working with those great ambitions. it's my pleasure to introduce probably the greenest u.s. president agitator and influencer in the history, ralph nader. thank you. >> thank you very much, mr. heeps, mr. hamilton. it's a pleasure to be here with corporate knights. that is a very prominent and singular publication in canada, establishing bench macs and standards for corporate responsibility and accountability and pioneering in these benchmarks an standards which as many people
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know is not often easy to do, to find the criteria and hold the corporations up to higher standards of performance. it's a pleasure to be with the gentleman here who participated in this exercise. history not only teaches us about our past but it teaches us about our present. that's the importance of this exercise in terms of the greenest u.s. presidents. it tells us not only about what we've often forgotten about in the past but it provides a framework of trying to understand why the pace in so many ways of environmental progress has slowed down, in spite of enormous capability, technical, and other rationales for it to be accelerated. teddy roosevelt had his own type of message, clearly an imperialist, and today we would
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call him a warmonger but he had a completely different side to himself he started off as a sickly child and built himself up physically, overcoming quite enormous obstacles. he tropped -- developped a love for the wilderness. he hikes these areas so there's an empirical content, an experience content to his subsequent conservation efforts. but he was also opposed by the big mining companies, timber companies, he was opposed by native american tribes who were wary about how much acreage he was taking out of any kind of access to them. and of course they had claims to those areas as well. he did have some conservations, -- conservationists, he chose some great ones, they got some
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good media. but basically he was a transformational leader. he was not a transactional leader. he was a transformational leader, we've had few transformational leaders in the sense that he'd wait for opinion -- he didn't wait for opinion polls. he believed in something called posterity, he had a linear aspect to what he was doing. he was by today's standards a pretty confident naturalist as well. so there's a lesson today which is it's good to experience the outdoors, it's good to have a sense of austerity, it's good to not make excuses to yourself as president but to be a lead , a phrase that came out of mcgregor burns' book on leadership, comparing
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transformational presidents with transactional presidents. turning to richard nixon, with whom i have to contend, we were very deep in the drafting of this eclean water bill and clean air bill in the early 1970's. i remember in the 1960's, there was -- to show you where the environmental movement had to start from, the navy refused to divulge to the department of interior the amount of sewage that was pouring out of naval bases in the u.s. when the department of interior which preceded e.p.a. asked why the navy said because our adversaries will be able to determine how many sailors are on the base. that's where we're at. "look" magazine was in a
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dilemma about this cover story. it wanted to talk about the auto industry but it didn't want to talk about auto pollution. or air pollution. at the time. it was considered exdreamly detrimental to their advertising revenues. within just a few short years, the atmosphere completely changed so that a president who had no interest, no experience in environmental issues became the signer of the greatest race of environmental laws in our history. with one or two exceptions he kid it -- did it with a flourish. if you look at his signing state 78s, they were very, very unnixon-like, you would say. he also appointed a good person to head to the e.p.a., who just passed away, russell train, and why did he do this?
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number one, he barely -- he feared the rumble if the 1960's, the demonstrations, the marches, the anti-war movement, the student rights movement, and of course the nascent environmental movement. this is very important to him. the second was earth day. april 1970's. -- 1970. i was in three locations, including philadelphia. this was an idea of someone in colorado which senator nelson picked up on and pushed. millions of people participated in events in that week, there were 1,500 events on college campuses alone on that day. it was on the cover of "time"
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and "newsweek," which in those days was a big deal, not so much today. with students heavily involved, they put the environmental issue on the map from whence it has never been taken off the map. nixon saw et -- saw that and was impressed by that. while he was privately reluctant to sign so many regulatory laws, he signed most of them, he vetoed one of them, it was overridden, and he also signed a bill that we worked on intensetively,, the occupational safety and health administration, osha, is not considered part of the environmental base. it affects pollution in the workplace, par tech lats, chemicals, gases, for example, black lung disease was a pollution. bred disease. so i always put that on the
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list with e.p.a. and clean water, clean air. the council and the white house and other projects that he signed on to. he's not happy with the pressure for the safe drinking water act in 1974. it was beginning to cool off by then. the industry was counterattacking. so lesson of nixon is, it isn't enough to have good studies, cog necessary is not ignition. it requires fire in the belly and the kind of demonstrations and marches that that politicians understand all too well because they see something coming over the horizon called new energy. it's new energy that we always have to focus on, new energy is what frightens politicians out
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of their status quo. that happened with the reverend falwell and the christian evangelicals, they demonstrated new energy. jimmy carter, i'll just stop with jimmy carter, we hear a lot of good comments. on jimmy carter, there was a bit of a tradgity there. he tried to do so many ground breaking things, solar energy in the white house, for example. and speaking about renewable energy. from the viewpoint of the nuclear energy which gave him even more credibility, he was actually quite skeptical about nuclear. but he didn't quite break with the nuclear industry. he tried to demonstration how to save energy, he was extremely acute. if you look at the dialogue,
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you may see renewables. it's the most wasteful energy consumers on the planet. and even though we made progress in some ways, there's a lot more to go on. what jimmy carter -- what befell jimmy carter was a spike in oil prices in 1979. long gas lines, huge price increases, inflation. that was the time, you remember, you had the beginning of the savings and loan, bank cry sess. that just overwhelmed him. very unfairly, i might add.
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in my opinion he's our greatest ex-president for everything he's done on health, all over the world, on monitoring elections, on writing books, it's not too much to say he was a jeffersonian type ex-president. so those are the lessons, sometimes the best intentions of a president on getting away of -- get in the way of doing what the president wants to do and has significant authority in doing. he had a congress that could have been amenable to him but the pressure to redegree -- deregulate natural gas prices became front and center and he went along with it. we don't look back enough to look forward. it's good c-span is here to get its many viewers a historical
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context. we have become a sound bite society. we are overwhelmed with information bits, we don't have time to take these information bits to the continuum toward knowledge and knowledge toward judgment and judgment toward wisdom. history tends to pressure us to do that. i want to thank corporate knights for doing the -- for giving us the opportunity to show how much we need an independent canada. thank you. >> we have the good fortune of having four of the participants in the survey, the president's ranking, here with us today. what i'm going to do is ask them to come up individually in order and produce spemses and -- and introduce themselves. each have a few comments to make. i guess we'll start with robert. thank you.
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thank you for engaging me in this interesting exercise. i hadn't actually ranked presidents in any green sense until i was asked to, so it was interesting food for thought and very stimulating to try to figure out. probably each of the 12 of us did it in our own way, our own basis, i'll tell you mine about what lessons i derived for it. first i want to say, i was thinking while ralph was speaking, he drew attention to a lot of points that i'm probably going to make, so i can make them briefly, it would be perhaps very interesting in american politics today if instead of having 44 candidates for the greenest president, we had 44 candidates for the current president and you could vote for three and your top vote got three points and your second vote got two and your first got one, it would be
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interesting to see what would happen in that system. i raise that point because there may be difficulties in getting presidents to be green these days in part because of the system that we operate, we don't tend to question it very much. but we have an extremely strong, very powerful, successful in many ways two-party system as ralph can verify, it's difficult to run on a third party basis in this country. we operate with a constitution that was essentially invented by a room full of white men, many of them slave holders, when we had a pop leags of three million people, less than 1% of what it has now. edon't mean to sound like i'm disparaging the u.s. constitution, but these bations on which we make -- these bases we based these decisions on, whether they are green or not green, that's something we all ought to be thinking about as we head into what are likely to
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be fairly new times historically. we are really at an enflexion point in history. if science is on target in terms of what we are doing to our global climate and what we are doing to life forms on the planet. we may be entering a very, very different phase of u.s. history and world history. you've seen -- to see how they manage that transition and how the presidents we elect today manage that transition is fwoning to be interesting. one of the, i suspect one of the interests of corporate knights in this exercise buzz how history approached being green as a president. it was much more borne ancon trasting that, it's so
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incredibly partisan an issue right now with an absolute party divide about whether we'd acknowledge that the environment is important. should there be a focus on it. a point that ralph made is that when roosevelt drew attention to posterity, his very first message to congress, i don't think they called them state of the union addresses at that time, but right after he took over as president, after mckinley was assassinated, he wasn't repr pair nerd presidency but he went right to capitol hill and in his first statement to congress he talked about the need for conservation. he said we do this not just because of ourselves but for future generations.
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he drew attention to the importance of operating with the future in mind, future generations. i thought about that in the conventions, the charlotte convention because alone among the two nominees for president, i was pleased to see president obama too made the point of mentioning future generations in his speech. one of the things about being president, your voters are people who are living today but there's a need for some kind of pact with the voiceless voters of the future. so much of what we are doing today will have huge consequences for the future. president obama didn't say much about what that meant or what it would mean. but the fact that he mentioned it at least was something, i don't think governor romney did in his acceptance speech. this idea of working for the
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future is one that all three of my choices, i think, took very, very seriously. my third choice, i think i surprised tyler when he interviewed me on this, by naming jefferson. jefferson wrote "a natural history of virginia." he planted trees, he chose populars, not a native tree but they were beautiful. he was conscious about the world of nature. he was involved heavily in the louisiana purchase. he was a farmer, he set a tone for his era that citizen farmers were the bedrock of democracy and that gave some thinking to the future of the way we handled. my top chose was jimmy caferter for a reason i admire carter
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for. i share the admiration for carter, in thinking he was our greatest recent president, he was an unfortunate one. what he tried to do was important. jimmy carter came on television and said to the american people that among the things we needed to do to treat difficulty, it was around energy independence but also the environment, i would completely agree with ralph that these things are linked. safe labor conditions, environment, thinking about security in the context. how we're vulnerable to threats from abroad. carter went on tv wearing a cardigan sweater, he was laughed at and derided at the time and has been laughed at and derided sense. he talked about having a war on the way we produce energy and the way we waste energy. he was laughingly derided with
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the acronym meow, still derided by much of the media, which is a lot of the problem. we tend not to think these things seriously. but alone of any president i can think of before or since carter, he asked americans to basically look at the way they lived themselves and acknowledged they have to be a little bit less comfortable, co-modes you, used to resources at their -- at their fingertips then they wanted them. he asked us to think about the way we consume. there's a lot politicians can do. it's important to understand that presidents operate in a popular and political ambience or climate. one of the important points that was made to a number of us at this table by supporters of obama, or by obama's staff, or
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maybe by obama hims he didn't say toyota me personally but his aides did. if we wanted president obama to come out of his first inaugural address and fight to work on climate change, really try to get the united states to show initiative in cutting greenhouse gas emission, in areas that require significant leadership, we needed -- we had a task for ourselves as well. we needed to pave the way to make it more politically acceptable. the reality is, we don't have now a popular and political am beence. that's part of the sectarian problem, the fact that there's so much partisanship around the environment. i don't think it's good to blame the victims or blame the voters. that isn't productive. but i think we do need to see it as something, not just an
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issue of presidential leadership but a collective responsibility we all have to make this more of a national and international conversation, to bring this issue out more often, to urge the news media to take more seriously these issues and bring them to the public debate so that we can discuss these things. i think we need to take our show on the road. we need to go talk to the american people and educate the american people about the realities of climate change to try to work on climate change denial, to make it possible that whoever wins the presidency, and i might say, just as nixon went into china, i said this to tyler and he chuckled it's not completely inconceivable, he would have the space to to something on the environment. i won't say president obama or president romney but we need to work ourselves who are activists who care about civic participation in our society need to work to make it easier
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for the next president of the united states. we're easily the most wasteful nations, along with one or two other nations on the planet. lt with the size of our economy, if america won't lead it's a problem for others to take on our leadership. thank you. >> next is eric from friends of earth. just speaking was robert engelmann from world watch. >> good morning. i'm president of friends of the earth united states, friends of the earth is a national environmental nonprofit organization, the world's largest federation of environmental groups with friends of the earth international which has member countries in 76 countries
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around the world. i like to thank corporate knights and everyone create -- for creating this space to talk about the greenest presidents. president roosevelt, nixon, carter, we heard from the previous two speakers about their accomplishments. what i want to talk about is their transformation and how transformational they were. and then extrapolate that forward to the presidential debate we're in. part of looking at the past is looking forward to the future. roosevelt and carter, they led. they led kind of transformational discussions in this country. land conservation, the ethic of preservation. carter tried to transform how we consumed and used energy. i don't consider president nixon in one of those transformational leaders. he knew enough to stay out of the way. he hired good people.
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russell train who passed over the last 24 hour he hired the right people to fwide his administration, to do the right thing on the environment. they were bedrock environmental laws we still rely on today. he knew enough to get out of the way, claim the credit and then, you know, move forward. kind of looking at the current presidential candidates, president obama, who has had four years to show whether or not he's an environmental president, governor romney who as governor of massachusetts worked on global warming, we had very much the same threats even greater than what the three greenest presidents faced. we have climate change. we have the impact of global warming. we have fires, we have droughts, we have floods, we have famine. the planet is changing. and, you know if we had a roosevelt or a carter, i have no doubt that they would be using the presidential bully
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pulpit to convince the american public and the world that we have to do something different. that we have to transform our economy. unfortunately, you know, i don't see that type of leadership coming from president obama or governor romney. it's a shame. we are a -- at a transformational point, an inflection point hiss torically for the united states and the globe. and our leaders, and this is where, i may disagree with the previous speaker, yes the environmental community needs to create space for our political leaders to take the lead. but there's a difference between leading from behind, which is what i think president obama has done over he last four jurors, and using the bully pulpit of the presidency, the most powerful office in the world, to convince the american public and the global population that we have to do more. that's the lesson i learned from reading the -- rating the three greenest presidents. they used the bully pulpit or
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at least didn't use the bully pulpit to get in the way. i find it interesting that the president at the democratic national convention where president obama mentioned that climate change wasn't a hoax. the preceding statement was, we have to do all the of the -- all of the above. we have to have clean coal, we have to have nuclear power, we have to have natural gas. that's not a transformational statement. that's a statement about maintaining the status quo and trying to convince the american public that we're doing something. in this day and age, that is not what we need from our presidential leaders, our presidential candidates. the same is true of governor romney. we can't get a policy from hem about what he'd do except the all of the above energy policy, which is we will invest in every energy source. once again, not transformational. the one lesson, the lesson i
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take away from the greenest presidents is, they spoke about the future. they spoke about future generations. they spoke about their vision and what they wish to do. i wish our president had the colonel to speak about that vision, speak about that future and speak about what they see the united states and the world doing to solve what is the greatest human crisis that we faced, which is climate change and global warming. >> thank you, eric. our next speaker will be joe ron, publisher of the popular climate change blog. >> thanks. thanks to corporate knights and tobey and tyler for putting
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this together. i wanted to build on what eric said. i just came out with a book, language intelligence, lessons from jesus, shakespeare and lady gaga. i go through and talk a great deal about the lessons if the greatest speakers of all time. many of whom are presidents. i don't think there's any question in this day and age that much of the president's role is the bully pulpit which teddy roosevelt created. i wanted to read what teddy roosevelt said just to show how far we've gone in the wrong direction from his famous nationalism speech of 1910 in kansas, which obama went there to -- a year ago, to echo that speech, except i don't think anyone remembers what obama
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said and i think people are always going remember what teddy roosevelt said. he said, we are brought face to face with the fact that there many people who will go with us in conserving the resources only if they're allowed to exploit them forer that benefit. this is one of the reasons special interests should be driven out of politics. of all the information to come before this nation, there's none which compares in importance with leaving this land even a better land than it is for tissue for our descendants than it is for us. conservation is a great moral issue for it involves the patriotic duty of ensuring the safety and continuance of the neag. let me add that the health and vitality of our people are at least as well worth conserving
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as their forest, waters, lands and minerals. imagine if president obama said anything like that, it shows in 100 years, here was a man with a great deal of courage. you can find online countless examples of comments like this. we would certainly all do well to learn that it's as important what you do as what you say. now i did include obama on my list. what you do matters. with the fuel economy standards, with the funding on clean energy and the promotion of clean energy the fact is he has done a tremendous amount. if it weren't, and i say this as the person who blogs on climate, if i weren't for climate change, he would, i
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think, everyone would put him on the very short list. the fact of the matter is we have this seminal problem. to the american public and to the health and well being of my child and future generations. i have said many times on climate progress that all of us, all presidents in the future, are going to be judged on the basis of whether we avoid what scientists tell us, desertification, dust bowlification i call it, and we're all seeing extreme weather today. so i think that in the future it's going to be hard to call anybody green if we're suffering through that. i did want to say when obama came in, he did come in with a lot of enthusiasm and passion and in april, 2009, you know, he certainly made clear that he
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understood it when he said now the choice we face is not between saving our environment and saving our economy. the choice we face is between prosperity and decline. we can allow climate change to wreak unnatural havoc across the landscape or create jobs working to prevent its worst outcomes, worst effects. the bulk of our efforts must focus on unleashing a new clean energy economy that will begin to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create millions of new jobs here in america. i think the difference between obama and roosevelt is that you know, roosevelt stood up to the special interests. he denounced the special interests. he relished that role even though it was a very hard fight and came at great cost. it just seems that when the going got tough, president obama moved on to this all the above strategy that eric mentioned and all the above is not a strategy. it's just more of the same.
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strategy is when you apply some thinking to what you're doing and you make tough choices. it's not when you do every absolute thing you've been doing. so i think that, you know, the jury is going to be out. i am hopeful that the next president of the united states is going to understand that they had better focus their time and effort on getting movement on this climate issue, as difficult as it is because this is not an issue that can be solved 20 years from now. when we think of many aspects of the environment, cleaning up a lake erie or the hudson river near where i was, people may have this mental model, wait until it's dirty and spend 10 years and clean it up. unfortunately, the climate has irreversible changes, we're seeing them now in the arctic where the arctic is poised to lose its summer ice in a decade and that will have dramatic impacts on our weather and climate. we can't use the old model of
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dealing with the environment of waiting until it's so painfully obvious that we'll go up and clean it up because you cannot clean up when a glacier has melted. it's not going to refreeze the same way. when you turn the southwest into a dust bowl. when you raise the sea level several feet, they'll keep raising and raising. it will be up to the next one or two presidents to decide whether this country gets on a sustainable path or whether we realize the worst fears of climate scientists and if we do then all of us and all the presidents this century, will be vused as failures. thank you. >> thank you, joe. i will add that i'm midway through reading "language intelligence" and it is an excellent book. i wanted to point that out. our final speaker is taj helton
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of wwf -- of w.w.f. u.s. >> fwoorning. fers i'd like to thank tyler and tobey and the corporate knights for producing this thought-provoking and somewhat timely survey of the greenest presidents in u.s. history. i should say we listed thomas jefferson as one of our choices, robert, we're in agreement there. though i have to confess i come from charlottesville, jefferson's hometown, so i hope that didn't bias our answer too much. a number of you have mentioned the individuals that made possible the record of success on some of these issues. ralph mentioned russell train, as did eric.
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russell train who pass away yesterday at the age of 92. has very special importance to the world wildlife fund and its members. in fact, great importance to the conservation movement in the u.s. and singularly made possible many of the accomplish. s that have been attributed not only president nixon but presidents sense then. so we feel a great loss today but we have a great legacy to look back on. i want to mention a -- mention a couple of things, he was more than anyone, i think an embodyment of an american value. we hear the term american values bantied a lot during an election year like this. but this survey and this report prove prove that one they have great american values is valuing nature.
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and conservation. and more than anybody i've been acquainted with, russell train was the embodyment of that. he was architect and the first head of the environmental quality. he was the second head of of the environmental agency, he was a founding director of world wildlife fund. it's probably the largest organization in the world today. we mourn his passing today but tomorrow, world wildlife fund, its staff, its members, everyone represented, i'm sure, on this panel today, we will honor the legacy of his accomplishments because russell , up until very recently he was writing opeds, calling members
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of congress, reminding them of this fundamental american value that is so important for our children and our children's children and what we leave behind or what we don't leave behind. reminding us and our political leaders of this legacy of this value, holding them accountable. that's so important. i want to say thanks again, the report will be a great tool to that end and thank you for having me. >> thank you to all five of our speakers. i want to conclude by including two people we hoped would be here today but who couldn't make it. one is from teddy roosevelt's great grandson. he is currently a managing director at barclay's capital. he's in charge of their clean
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technology group. he's pushing for clean energy and clean technologies. he wrote saying that conservative environmentalist is not an oxy moron. my the records of my great grandfather and richard nixon show that the g.o.p. is also the green old party. reconnecting with these roots is necessary not only to honor our covenant with future generation bus for our relevance as a political future. the other was mark tersi fwmbings of the nature conservancy he wrote, everyone on the planet depends on nature, the environment, for their survival and prosperity. we have a strong tradition in america of bipartisan support for conservation issues. we should be able to find ample common ground on issues so fundamental. with that, i want to conclude with that, i want to conclude today's